America’s Workplace Diversity Crisis: Measuring Gaps in Diversity & Inclusion Satisfaction by Employee Race and Ethnicity

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April 29, 2021

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Executive Summary

  • Do employees of different racial and ethnic groups agree about the current state of workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I)? In this study, we answer that question using a powerful new data set: A large sample of anonymous Glassdoor ratings that include both employee sentiment about D&I at work, as well as the self-identified race and ethnicity of those employees.
  • Are Workplaces Diverse and Inclusive? It Depends on Who You Ask: We find strong evidence that workers from different racial and ethnic groups disagree about the current state of workplace D&I at their companies. Overall, Black or African American workers report an average D&I rating of 3.49 out of 5 stars, well below the average of 3.73 stars across all workers. By contrast, Asian workers report above average D&I ratings of 3.98 stars, while Hispanic/Latinx workers report ratings of 3.80 stars. 
  • Avoid Allowing White Voices to Dominate Opinions on Diversity: White employees make up 60 percent of the U.S. workforce and 56 percent of Glassdoor D&I ratings in our studied sample. Broad measures of D&I satisfaction — and employee satisfaction more broadly — tend to be dominated by opinions of white employees because of this overrepresentation. That risks creating blind spots for employers who do not directly solicit feedback from, and target investment in, underrepresented groups.
  • The Workplace Diversity Perceptions Gap is Real and Growing: Using a statistical model, we assess whether D&I sentiment differs among racial and ethnic groups after accounting for differences in employees’ occupations, industries, company sizes, genders, lengths of time on the job and more. We find that, even after these adjustments, Black or African American employees still rate workplace D&I nearly 8 percent lower — a large and highly statistically significant gap. Moreover, we find that since 2019 this gap has grown rather than shrunk, expanding from 0.2 to 0.6 stars (on a 1 to 5 star satisfaction scale) despite many employers increasing investments in D&I programs in the last two years.
  • Employee Views on Diversity Vary by Industry: We find the largest D&I perception gaps between Black or African American sentiment and all other employees are in the Accounting & Legal, Consumer Services, Travel & Tourism, Government and Biotech & Pharmaceuticals sectors. By contrast, we find small or indistinguishable D&I perception gaps in the Media, Business Services, Transportation & Logistics, and Telecommunications sectors. In only one industry — Media — did Black or African American employees rate workplace D&I above other employees. 
  • Some Jobs More Aligned on Diversity than Others: We find the largest gaps in D&I perceptions between Black or African American employees and all other employees exist among Registered Nursing roles (1.9 star gap), Customer Success roles (1.8 star gap), and Program Manager roles (1.8 star gap). We find Black or African American employees rate D&I lower in 52 of the 60 occupations examined, and equal in four occupations. In just four occupations do Black or African American employees rate their company’s D&I above other employees: Social Worker, Product Manager, Recruiter, and Systems Technician.
  • Employee Race and Ethnicity on Glassdoor is Broadly Representative: We compare the percentage distribution of racial and ethnic groups in our sample of Glassdoor D&I ratings to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, and find the data remarkably close to the actual population race and ethnicity makeup of the nation. 
  • The Way Forward for Employers: There is no one-size-fits-all approach for employers who are serious about cultivating diverse and inclusive workplaces. Our findings show that employers must look beyond “average” employee opinion on workplace diversity, as doing so can conceal important gaps in D&I sentiment among employees of different backgrounds and racial and ethnic groups. Looking deeper in this manner may reveal gaps in employee perceptions or experiences, or highlight areas of the workforce where D&I programs are not reaching. 

See the full Glassdoor Economic Research report, America’s Workplace Diversity Crisis: Measuring Gaps in Diversity & Inclusion Satisfaction by Employee Race and Ethnicity, for an in-depth analysis of how satisfied workers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are with D&I efforts at their employers.

For employers, managers and HR experts looking for advice on turning these findings into action, check out Glassdoor’s guide on How to Build a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program.

For job seekers and employees who want to learn more about companies, explore our data yourself by browsing reviews for individual companies, including workplace factor ratings for diversity & inclusion and ratings broken out by demographic information, or by comparing companies directly.