According to a new poll, the American workforce is embracing diversity more than ever before. The Taft Communications and Rutgers-Eagleton Poll State of Diversity public opinion survey found that more people believe that inclusion and diversity have a place in the job force, but also identifies there are significant rifts that remain. 

The survey noted that public opinion on the importance of diversity in places of employment has risen with around half of respondents declaring that racial and gender diversity is important in the workplace, while another three in ten call it somewhat important. 

It’s the first time that Taft Communications has performed the survey at the national level and, while the results are encouraging, there are divisions that remain entrenched more prevalently in some groups in the areas of political affiliation and race.

Taft CEO Ted Deutsch said, “After five years of observing these trends in our home state of New Jersey, we were excited to expand our State of Diversity survey nationally to see how workers across the country view these critical issues.  While there are many encouraging macro findings related to DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) in the workplace, the divide in perceptions by race, gender, politics, and sexual orientation are a distressing confirmation of the increased polarization we see in so many aspects of American society.”

Split down conventional lines

When surveyed about racial and ethnic diversity, political party affiliation showed a wide rift in who believes it’s important. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and just 36% of Republicans responded that racial diversity is “very important” in the workplace. The split is virtually identical for responses related to gender diversity.

Between men and women, the differential is less evident but still exists. The survey shows that 48% of men believe racial diversity is very important compared to 58% of women, and that split widens slightly regarding gender diversity.

Meanwhile, roughly seven in 10 respondents say that they feel everyone is treated the same when it comes to assignments, employee social activities, career advancement, discipline, and other employment areas.

Offensive language less common

According to the survey results, “two-thirds or more of individuals say they ‘infrequently’ or ‘never’ hear or see things at work, whether virtually or in person, that could be considered offensive to various groups of people”. That said, it’s minority groups that tend to report hearing offensive things at work more often. 

DEI has increased focus in automotive

The poor reputation of the old guard in automotive dealerships seems to be dissipating, where crude jokes and discriminatory behavior were once an undercurrent of the culture. In its place, groups like the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement have taken hold. The goal of doubling the number of leaderships that come from diverse backgrounds by 2030 has been embraced by organizations like Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, Cox Automotive, and major dealer groups, not to mention those in parts manufacturing.

Though the general movement toward a more diverse workplace and accepting culture has made significant strides in just a handful of years, there’s still a concern since more than 10% of survey respondents don’t yet believe there’s a problem. It’s only through discussion and ongoing training that the industry will become more welcoming of diversity.

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