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Our world is diverse. Our workplaces should be, too. Even in 2023, American workplaces do not accurately reflect our population. Purposeful discrimination against protected classes is illegal, but that shouldn’t be the only reason employers seek a more diverse workforce. Different backgrounds and experiences lead to a robust exchange of ideas. These diversity in the workplace statistics reveal what’s happening in our modern job market.
Understanding the importance of workplace diversity and its barriers can help employers work toward a more varied workforce. Here are 11 statistical insights into workplace diversity.
The importance of workplace diversity
Just how important is workplace diversity? These workplace diversity statistics show it’s a major factor in choosing and retaining employment.
1. 76% of employees report diversity is an important factor when considering a job (9)
You might have found the perfect candidate, but if your workplace lacks diversity, you could miss out. Over three quarters of American workers say that diversity is a top consideration when applying for and accepting a job.
2. Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets (10)
According to one study, having a diverse workforce makes a company significantly more likely to capture new markets. Working with people from different backgrounds fosters more innovation, which directly impacts how fast your company can scale up and dominate new markets.
3. 83% of millennials are more likely to be engaged when working for an inclusive company (11)
Millennials—born between 1981 and 1996—consider inclusivity and diversity a crucial factor in selecting a job. This generation reports that they’re more likely to be engaged at work when they are part of a diverse workforce.
4. 87% of diverse teams are better at making decisions (12)
The old saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” doesn’t apply to diverse teams. In fact, when a team includes people of varied ages, genders, and backgrounds, they’re actually better at making decisions than individuals.
5. 75% of employees will leave a job for one that is more inclusive (7)
If you want to retain your top performers, make sure your workplace is inclusive. 75% of U.S. workers revealed that they’re willing to leave a job for a more diverse workplace. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and that their contributions are appreciated.
6. 75% of employees think their workplace needs more diversity (1)
So, how do American workplaces stack up? 75% of U.S. workers think their workplace needs more diversity. As you can see from the previous statistics, inclusive workplaces are more attractive to top talent. They also increase productivity and profit. If you want to attract the right employees and benefit your business, critically evaluate your employee demographics.
7. Hiring just 1% more disabled people could increase the GDP by $25 billion (8)
There’s a profit incentive to inclusivity. If the American workforce hired just 1% more disabled people, the national GDP would go up by $25 billion. That’s a staggering statistic: not only is diversity good for employee morale and retention, it can also benefit your bottom line.
8. Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever (21)
As Gen Z enters the workforce, employers should be aware that they are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the United States has ever seen. While 52% still identify as white, about 25% are Hispanic/Latino, 14% Black, 6% Asian, and 5% as another race or multiracial. Gen Z places an even higher value on diverse workforces and social equity than Millennials.
Barriers to better diversity
Implementing diversity has its own challenges. As you know, blind hiring can help us overcome our unconscious biases—but that’s only if the people in charge believe it’s important. Here are some stats on the barriers to diversity in the workplace.
9. 69% of executives rate diversity and inclusion as an important issue (13)
As of 2017, 69% of executives rate diversity and inclusion as a priority, which is up 32% from 2014. That’s less than the percentage of workers who rate diversity as important (76%), but it’s trending in the right direction. This highlights an opportunity for employers that are willing to improve. To attract the right candidates, take diversity seriously.
10. Only 15% of all Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs (3)
Women make up more than half of the population, but their representation at the highest levels is not equal. As of 2022, there are just 74 female CEOs in America’s 500 highest-grossing companies. That’s 15%. This highlights just how easy it is for companies to become complacent.
It’s also a good example of how diversity is important at all levels. The majority of Americans are not part of the C-suite. However, inclusivity is lacking everywhere—even for people at the top of their game.
11. 41% of managers say their busy schedules prohibit them from implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives (4)
So, why aren’t we making more progress overall? Priorities and workload may factor in. 41% of managers report that they’re too busy to start diversity and inclusion initiatives. Considering that only 32% of executives consider this an important issue, it’s easy to spot the barrier.
Real change is best implemented from the top down. Executives should make diversity a priority. That may include reducing managerial workload to focus on new hiring policies.
12. 46% of workers experience discrimination and harassment each year (15)
As of 2022, 46% of workers report experiencing discrimination in the workplace. The most common issues are racism, sexism, and pay gaps, although significant portions of the surveyed population report experiencing homophobia, weight discrimination, ageism, transphobia, and ableism. Women are more likely to experience pay gaps and sexism.
When you have a diverse workforce, it’s less likely that someone will be the only person of that background on their team. This makes it easier for them to speak up, without fear of harassment or discrimination. When employees are comfortable and confident, there are fewer barriers to contributing. In turn, you’ll enjoy a more productive, innovative team.
13. Compared to white men, many men of color experience a significant pay gap (16)
How much workers are paid can also present barriers to a more diverse workforce. On average, Hispanic/Latino workers earn 91 cents to every dollar earned by white men. Black men earn 87 cents to every dollar. However, Asian men actually earn $1.15 for every dollar a white man earns.
14. White candidates are 2.1% more likely to receive callbacks based on their names (17)
Discrimination starts early in the hiring process. Researchers sent 83,000 applications to Fortune 500 companies. They found that applications with distinctive Black names were less likely to land an interview, compared with white-sounding names with the exact same application information.
15. Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable in times of crisis (18)
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected certain populations. According to a McKinsey study, women are 1.8 times more likely to lose their jobs in times of crisis. While women make up 39% of global employment, they accounted for 54% of overall job losses. This is likely due to the fact that caretaking duties also disproportionately affect women. Solving diversity gaps will require addressing these issues at a systemic level.
16. Black and Latino Americans were more likely to be laid off during the pandemic (19)
During the pandemic, Black and Latino Americans were more likely to be laid off. While white Americans saw a 15% layoff rate, 23% of Black Americans and 24% of Latino Americans were laid off. (Asian Americans only accounted for 13% of layoffs.) While the worst of the pandemic is over, unemployment and resume gaps can make it even more difficult to get back into the workforce.
17. Just 39% of Latino Americans and 55% of Black Americans over the age of 25 have the education and job skills to get good jobs (20)
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black and Latino Americans have a significant education and skills gap. While 68% of white Americans over 25 have the necessary education and skills to get a good job, only 55% of Black Americans and 39% of Latino Americans can say the same. This is another systemic issue to address, but also an opportunity for employers to consider skills training programs to promote a more diverse workforce.
18. Blind applications can increase a woman’s chance of being hired by up to 46% (22)
One oft-cited study on orchestral musicians suggested that men are twice as likely to be hired as women, even when a female hiring manager is in charge. The study, which used a blind audition process to conceal candidates’ sex or gender, suggested that this approach might increase a woman’s chance of being hired by up to 46%. That’s a sobering reminder that even women discriminate against other women, whether consciously or otherwise.
19. 20% of LGBTQ+ employees have reported discrimination when applying for jobs (23)
Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity poses a significant barrier to being hired. A fifth of LGBTQ+ workers reported that they were discriminated against when seeking employment, and 10% of LGBTQ+ employees say they have left a job because the workplace was not accepting of their orientation or identity.
20. People from marginalized communities with at least one disability experience larger employment gaps (24)
Ableism can also make it difficult for people to get hired. When a person with a disability is also part of another marginalized group, they are less likely to be employed. They tend to work fewer hours and earn less money than people without disabilities, even accounting for gender, race, ethnicity and age gaps.
What is “blind hiring”?
Diversity and inclusion are important. Not enough companies are prioritizing an inclusive workforce. So, what’s the solution?
Blind hiring is a great way to improve workplace diversity. All of us have unconscious biases, which are influenced by pop culture, education, religion, social connections, and more. Even if we think of ourselves as open-minded, we may be relying on outdated and inaccurate biases. Most people don’t even realize they’re acting in a discriminatory manner.
Blind hiring helps employers cut down on unconscious bias. For example, the Boston Symphony Orchestra initiated a blind hiring process in the 1970s. They wanted to improve their gender diversity. By conducting blind auditions, they were able to increase the orchestra’s overall skill and quality. Women who participated in blind auditions were 25% to 46% more likely to be hired. Best of all, blind auditions encouraged more women to apply.
Implementing blind hiring practices is a win-win situation: employers are less likely to make biased decisions and the overall quality of work improves.
If you want your company to grow, a diverse workforce is key. Too many CEOs fail to prioritize inclusivity and too many managers are unable or unwilling to implement diversity initiatives. As a result, workers experience harassment and are more likely to leave for another job.
When we prioritize diversity, magic happens. Workers are more engaged and make better decisions. Companies capture new markets and improve profits. The national GDP goes up.
Let these diversity in the workplace statistics be your inspiration for improvements. Improving hiring processes and fostering inclusivity can make a big difference. When we embrace diversity, everyone wins.
1. Quantum Workplace: 6 Diversity and Inclusion Statistics You Need to Know
6. RWJF: Discrimination in America
8. Accenture: GETTING TO EQUAL: THE DISABILITY INCLUSION ADVANTAGE
10. Harvard Business Review: How Diversity Can Drive Innovation
15. HR Daily Advisor: What Is Making Employees Unhappy in 2022?
17. HR University: 30+ Important Diversity in the Workplace Statistics 2023
20. National Center for Education Statistics: Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups
22. The Globe and Mail: Gender-blind hiring could benefit women, but it also comes with challenges
24. Center for American Progress: Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market