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Resolving Workplace Discrimination and Unconscious Bias Takes Work, Survey Shows

July 31, 2020

By Kevin Marrs, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The American Management Association (AMA) released a survey highlighting the significant gap that exists between organizational policy and day-to-day practices.  Their survey, the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Survey, shows that simply having a diversity & inclusion (D&I) policy in place does not effectively solve the problem of discriminatory practices, whether deliberate or unwitting.

Conducted in June, this survey attracted responses from across the country—with New York, California, and Texas among the top states reporting—and a variety of industries. The results reflect the need to raise awareness of bias in the workplace and make a company-wide investment in changing attitudes and behaviors to overcome this issue and foster collaboration, respect, and trust.

Of the more than 700 participants, comprised of both AMA members and non-member customers, 66% work for an organization that has an official D&I policy. Yet, only 40% of respondents think that policy is being properly implemented.  45% of the respondents were managers. Nearly 56% self-identified as white, 12% as black or African American, and 70% as female.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Nearly 40% have been discriminated against in their workplace.
  • 55% have witnessed someone else being discriminated against.
  • Nearly 92% are familiar with the concept of unconscious bias.
  • Nearly 80% admit to having been guilty of unconscious bias.
  • Nearly 83% have witnessed unconscious bias by others in the workplace.  

“At a time when the nation is wrestling with racial issues and tensions, organizations across the board have room to improve,” says AMA President and CEO Manny Avramidis. “As this survey strongly indicates, having a D&I policy is merely the first step. Managers must develop the skills to become a champion of diversity and a leader of inclusive teams, as well as an understanding of biases on a deeper level.”  

For its part, ASE has also launched a survey aimed at understanding issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion.  ASE’s 2009 Survey on Diversity and Inclusion showed that just 42% of firms had a formal policy in place that addressed diversity and inclusion.  The survey also showed that fewer than a quarter of the participants had formal diversity initiatives or programs in place.

To participate in the 2020 survey, contact the ASE survey department for your personalized link.  The survey is open to members only.

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