DEI, or diversity, equity, and inclusion, is more than a trending topic. It’s a way to ensure everyone in our increasingly diverse workforce feels respected, valued, and included—regardless of their background or identity. It’s about how to take diversity in the workplace statistics and turn them into actionable, equitable plans.
Creating a fair, diverse workplace has a lot of benefits for you and your employees, but it can be challenging to put a DEI program in place—and even harder to keep it going. Here are all the important diversity in the workplace statistics and trends, must-know DEI laws, key components of a DEI plan, and a few tools to help you get it all going.
10 diversity in the workplace statistics in 2023
Attracting great employees can be tough, especially in today’s competitive labor market—and it can be even tougher to keep them. A big part of attracting and retaining employees is making them feel valued, welcome, and respected. One way to do this is by building a workplace that’s committed to DEI, or diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Diversity refers to a group with a wide and varying range of ethnicities, religious, abilities, sexual orientations, and more. Inclusion is actively welcoming and engaging all members of that group. And equity is the fair treatment of all those people regardless of how they look or identify.
Aside from making people feel comfortable and safe at work, DEI can be good for business. It improves productivity, opens your business to fresh perspectives, and can reduce turnover rates. Let’s look at why DEI is especially important right now in 2023, and some diversity in the workplace statics.
1. The workforce is changing fast
While the workforce in the U.S. is still predominantly white—77% white to be exact—“minority” groups may become the majority by 2045. By that time, white-identifying people will make up just 49.7 percent of the working population. As far as census data can tell, minorities will be the primary source of growth in the working age population, voters, consumers, and tax base for the foreseeable future.
2. 48% of Generation Z are racial or ethnic minorities
The youngest working generation in the U.S. is entering adulthood as the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation. As they step into the workplace, they bring lived experience, an entirely new perspective on what makes a good career, and a fresh take on what success in the workplace looks like. We know that Gen Z takes DEI seriously—they’re tired of token DEI programs and they want to work for organizations that intentionally take actions to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is one of the most impactful diversity in the workplace statistics and will help guide your overall goals.
3. 1 in 4 Black or Hispanic people report discrimination at work
In the meantime, 24 percent of both Black and Hispanic employees have experienced discrimination in the workplace. And this starts before they’re even hired. Studies show that candidates with “distinctively black names” are less likely to be interviewed or move forward in the interview process in comparison to candidates with “distinctively white names”.
4. 3 in 4 job seekers and workers prefer diverse companies and coworkers
More than 76% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workplace is important to them when they’re choosing a job. In fact, 32% of job seekers say they wouldn’t even apply to a company with a lack of diversity amongst its employees. Companies that don’t take DEI seriously may miss out on top talent.
5. 72% of employees will leave a job for one that’s more inclusive
DEI is just as important for retention as it is for hiring. 72% of U.S. workers stated that they’re willing to leave a job for a more diverse workplace. Of the 72% who actually left their jobs for a more inclusive culture, almost 33% did so because they didn’t feel comfortable being themselves. If you don’t want your own business to become a diversity in the workplace statistic—like having wildly high turnover rates—then look into creating a realistic and actionable DEI plan.
6. Just 39% of Latino Americans and 55% of Black Americans over the age of 25 have higher education credentials
There’s still a significant education gap for Black and Latino Americans. Due to systemic barriers, only 55% of Black Americans and 29% of Latino Americans have the skills and education needed to secure a good job. This is compared to the 68% of White Americans who feel prepared for the workforce. What can employers do about it? Consider skills upgrades or training programs to help build a more diverse workforce.
7. 45.5% of LGBTQ+ workers reported experiencing unfair treatment at work
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace is still a widespread issue. Whether it’s struggling to get hired in the first place or being fired for their sexual orientation, 45.5% of LGBTQ+ people in America report experiencing unfair treatment at work. Many LGBTQ+ employees also reported doing something to avoid discrimination like hide their identity, changing the way they look, or leaving a job altogether.
8. Less than 28% of employees agree that their company is fair to everyone
When so few employees feel that DEI is being taken seriously, this means majority groups still have an unfair advantage over minority groups in the workplace. It also means that everyone is losing out. When employers put in the effort to make their workplace fair for everyone, their teams are happier, more innovative, more productive, and they experience a lot less turnover.
9. Blind applications lead to 5 times more female hires
A study of hiring practices in orchestras found that blind auditions increased female hires by up to 46%. When blind auditions became industry practice, women became slightly more likely to get hired than their male counterparts. Because women were confident they’d be treated fairly, more female musicians started applying. The same practice applies to hiring. When employers judge applications on skills alone, female hires go up.
10. We’re seeing an increase in minority-owned businesses
The number of minority-owned small businesses in the United States grew by 5.6% between 2018 and 2022. In addition to showcasing the entrepreneurial skills of underrepresented groups, this gives global brands more diverse options for partnership, supplier relationships, and more. Many experts say diversity in the supply chain should be at the heart of every DEI program.
10 notable DEI trends in 2023 that come from diversity in the workplace statistics
In 2023, conversations about DEI aren’t optional for employers. As we’ve seen, DEI can have an impact on hiring, retention, employee happiness, productivity, and your bottom line. With more and more employees expect their employer to understand the issues of the day and to incorporate them into the workplace, here are some of the biggest DEI trends in 2023.
1. Tackling unconscious bias
Unconscious biases are subtle and most often unintentional beliefs about certain groups of people. This can be especially prevalent in today’s multigenerational workplace, where bias about age and capability come into the picture, too.
Unconscious bias can affect decision making in every aspect of the workplace from hiring, scheduling, promotions, evaluations, and more. We know that eliminating unconscious bias is essential for creating a fair work environment, but how do you actually do it? Many companies start with unconscious bias training and then take transparent and concrete steps to make their workplace open, inclusive, and accountable.
2. Having a better understanding gender identity
A better understanding of gender identity in the workplace is essential for creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees. By acknowledging and respecting diverse gender identities, organizations can reduce discrimination, promote mental well-being, and create a much healthier work culture.
Companies can take steps like creating gender-neutral restrooms, inclusive language policies, or making pronoun sharing standard. Adding pronouns to email signatures, business cards, or name badges sends a clear message that your company acknowledges and respects gender diversity.
3. Supporting employees’ mental health
Mental health has been part of the conversation for a few years, but during and after the pandemic, it took on a whole new dimension. Between job insecurity, the challenges of working from home, and other stressors, companies quickly realized they needed to do more to support the mental health of their employees.
Today, 91% of employees believe that their employers should care about and prioritize their mental health. 85% also said that when evaluating a job offer, mental health benefits were most important than wellness initiatives, gym memberships, free meals, and other perks.
4. Supplier diversity and inclusive sourcing
Being a truly equitable business means that you’re practicing DEI at every level of your business, not just with your employees. Many organizations are prioritizing diversity in their suppliers and actively seeking to partner with minority-owned businesses. Companies have a unique opportunity to create real and systemic change by implementing a supplier diversity program.
5. Recognizing the importance of intersectionality
Intersectionality is a framework for examining the different ways in which people experience discrimination or inequality. It says that the combination of our identities, including race, gender, ability, and sexuality, “intersect” to create unique experiences of discrimination. For example, a Black, neurodivergent woman will experience discrimination differently than a white, neurotypical woman—or even a Black neurotypical woman.
These elements of discrimination reinforce each other, so it’s important for companies to address all forms of discrimination in their DEI programs. What does that mean? Let’s say you were to eliminate the gender pay gap at your company, but you ignored racial discrimination in your hiring practices. Even though you found a solution for one element of discrimination against women, the others will continue to have an effect.
6. Community engagement and partnerships
Many small businesses are promoting DEI by participating in community events, supporting local initiatives, and volunteering their time. By actively engaging with local communities, companies can engage diverse voices, understand if everyone in their community is able to use their products or services, and make important partnerships or collaborations. For small businesses in particular, community connections can help you grow.
7. Going beyond tokenism
In 2023, doing the bare minimum is no longer acceptable. Potential hires, partners, and suppliers expect companies to go beyond hiring one person of color, or putting a single woman in a leadership role. The single biggest thing companies can do to combat tokenism? Ensure that employees aren’t treated as the lone representative for their group. When you’re building teams, include more than one person from each demographic.
8. Being transparent about DEI goals
If there’s nothing to measure, how will you know you’re successful? And if no one knows the plan, how can they contribute? Without transparent goals and targets, it can be challenging for companies to stay accountable or make their DEI programs a reality. Owners and managers need to be available for honest conversions, make it easy to give feedback, and encourage their team to share ideas and solutions. It’s the best way to create a truly equal workplace.
9. Pay equity and transparency
The focus on pay equity is as strong as ever. Organizations are continuing to find ways to create more transparency and fairness in the way they compensate their employees. Companies can do a few things to strive for pay equity, including regular pay audits, allowing employees to discuss their salaries, eliminating salary negotiations, and more. While pay equity has been a challenge for over a hundred years, we’re getting closer to fair compensation for everyone, regardless of gender, race, or other factors.
10. Allyship and advocacy
Organizations are recognizing the importance of allies and advocates for underrepresented groups. We’re seeing more companies providing training and education, resources to promote allyship, and creating safe spaces for employees to advocate for their peers. Research shows that allies don’t just influence one person at a time—they inspire others to stand up, too. This creates a more accepting and supportive environment for everyone.
Diversity and inclusion laws in the workplace
DEI is an important consideration for your talent pool, employee productivity and happiness, and your financial success. However, it may also have legal implications for your business. The EEOC, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, enforces several laws that prevent workplaces from discriminating against potential hires or employees based on their race, color, religion, sex, disability, gender identity, or national origin.
These DEI laws apply to every aspect of employment, including hiring, compensation, employment benefits, advancement, employment training, assignments, and termination of employment. Here are some of the must-know DEI laws in the United States and how they can affect everything from hiring to promotions.
1. Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal to pay men and women differently when they work under similar conditions, and their job requires the same level of skill and responsibility. This law has always been difficult to enforce, but if employees discover a pay discrepancy for equal work, they can file a lawsuit and potentially receive back pay or a pay adjustment. You may even have to reimburse them for their legal fees.
Every state now has a pay equity law in place, with the exception of Mississippi.
2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This law applies to employers with over 15 employees and makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, gender identity, or national origin in any area of employment. Under this act, it’s also illegal to make offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation.
3. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Under the ADEA, it’s illegal to discriminate against individuals who are 40 or older. This means setting arbitrary age limits for positions, refusal to promote employees because of their age, or making assumptions about someone’s capabilities based on their age.
4. American with Disabilities Act of 1990
This act protects mentally and/or physically disabled individuals from discriminatory or hiring practices, and unfair pay. In this case disability refers to “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual.”
5. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
Under this act, people applying for a job cannot be turned down or discriminated against based on their genetic makeup or family history. It may sound specific, but this law was put in place to protect job candidates or employees that may be at a higher risk of developing diseases due to family health history.
6. Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against pregnant women or anyone experiencing events related to childbirth. As long as a pregnant person is capable of doing their job, you cannot fire or refuse to hire them because they’re pregnant. You must also give them accommodations if they’re medically necessary, and their job must be available to them when they return from leave.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace
We’ve established that DEI is important for a happy, productive team, but it can have some fantastic benefits for your business as well. Let’s look at how diversity in your workplace can help your business thrive beyond typical diversity in the workplace statistics.
A larger, more inclusive hiring pool
Did you know? 70% of job seekers see diversity as a major factor when they’re considering a job. By building a diverse team and an inclusive workplace, you open yourself up to a wider hiring pool—and that hiring pool might come with referrals. If you become known as an employer that takes DEI seriously, top candidates are also more likely to seek you out.
When your employees are diverse, they bring a wider range of experience and perspectives to the table. This can lead to more ideas and more interesting solutions. Small businesses often have to think on their feet and adapt quickly, so building a diverse team and listening to your employees is a smart move.
Better decision making
When employers create a fair environment where everyone feels valued, employees are more likely to feel a sense of respect and trust. This makes people more likely to share and more willing to collaborate, which means easier and better decision making within your company.
Higher retention, lower turnover
DEI can encourage your employees to stay with you longer. This one’s a no-brainer—when employees feel valued and respected, they’re happier. And happy employees are less likely to leave. Plus, since hiring is expensive, DEI might also save you money in the long run.
With strong DEI initiatives in place, all the benefits above combine to set you up for financial success. Diverse teams see things in a variety of ways, which means they’re better able to recognize new and different opportunities, and appreciate unmet customer needs. According to recent studies, this leads to better overall financial performance.
Challenges of diversity in the workplace
Like with any aspect of running a business, the benefits come along with potential downsides. There’s no question that creating a diverse team and a fair workplace is worth it, but you may face a few bumps along the road. Here are some of the challenges companies face with diversity in the workplace and running DEI programs.
Depending on what your DEI program looks like, it may be expensive or require additional resources like funding, staff, and time. Rather than ignoring DEI for another year, check out free online resources, prioritize low-cost initiatives like in-house training, or look into external funding. There are lots of grants available for organizations who want to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Resistance to change
Change can be tough and you may find employees or even managers resistant to the idea of diversity or equity. Many people still view DEI as a form of positive discrimination or reverse discrimination. To overcome a resistance to change, talk to your team about the benefits of a diverse workplace, like improved decision-making, innovation, and productivity. Make sure they understand the reason behind any initiatives you put in place, and ensure there are plenty of opportunities to speak up and offer feedback.
Lack of leadership support
Without strong support from management, your DEI program may not be successful. As the person leading the initiative, you should clearly communicate the benefits and goals to your employees, and—more importantly—lead by example. Model inclusive behavior and language, engage all the voices at your company, be an active listener to every team member, and encourage collaboration.
No real goals or metrics
Too often, companies tout “vanity metrics” to say they’re promoting diversity at their company; these aren’t the diversity in the workplace statistics you want to be tackling. When you rely on vanity metrics, like hiring a few more women or people of color, you’re not looking at or solving any of the real problems in your organization.
If your business had an issue with sales, you’d look at key metrics and set measurable goals to fix the issue. The same should be done for your DEI program.
Sustaining long-term engagement
It can be difficult to maintain momentum after the initial excitement for your program wears off. Plus, day-to-day business priorities like hiring, payroll, and scheduling tend to take over. Before you know it, your DEI initiatives lose visibility and support.
To avoid your program going under, you need to continuously communicate the importance of DEI, make it a part of your day-to-day responsibilities, and set real goals that you’re accountable for at the end of every month.
What’s included in a DEI strategic plan?
Now that we know why a DEI plan is important, the benefits and challenges, let’s figure out how to actually put one into place. Here’s what every good DEI program needs to ensure diversity in hiring, an inclusive culture, and equity at all levels of your company.
Clear goals and objectives
A successful DEI program starts with clearly defined goals and objectives. These goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Using the SMART framework for goal setting gives you a better chance of achieving what you’ve set out to do. Look at your own diversity in the workplace statistics and create benchmarks to improve your DEI goals.
Your DEI plan should also outline the desired outcomes for your program and the strategies you’ll use to get there. For example, if you want to ensure diversity in your hiring, how will you achieve that? Blind applications? Inclusive language in your job posts?
Commitment and accountability from management
A commitment from management is critical for the success of a DEI program. The senior people in your business should actively champion DEI, make resources a priority, and set an example with inclusive behaviors and decision-making. They should also put measures in place to track progress and hold themselves and their teams accountable for DEI goals. This can be as simple as maintaining routine, open communication with your team, and celebrating every time you have a win.
Diverse recruitment and hiring practices
If you’re looking to build a diverse team, it starts with the hiring process. Strategies to attract a diverse pool of candidates might include using inclusive job descriptions and language and finding ways to minimize bias in your candidate screening and selection process. Not sure how to do that? Check in with your employees. They can tell you if your hiring process feels inclusive and likely have some great ideas for improvement.
Diversity in hiring and recruitment should also extend to your suppliers. If you have the opportunity to work with a fantastic minority-owned supplier, you should jump on it.
Ongoing training and education
Without continuous attention, it’s easy for a DEI program to fizzle out. It’s vital to offer ongoing training and skill building on topics like tackling unconscious bias, avoiding microaggressions, or cultural competence. Regular learning opportunities help create a shared understanding and promote inclusive behaviors.
Regular communication and transparency
Effective communication is essential for a successful DEI program. This includes regular updates on DEI initiatives, progress reports, and sharing success stories. To make sure that all of your employees understand the goals of your program, the strategies you’re using, and the impact you want it to have on your business, you can offer a quick refresher as part of your regular check-ins. This is particularly helpful if you have new employees every month.
DEI software and tools that can help
You’ve got a lot going on, especially with that new DEI program you’re putting into place. It means you’re ready to tackle the diversity in the workplace statistics and improve numbers at your own business. Let’s take a look at some DEI tools that can make it easier to establish DEI strategies, monitor impact, and track your goals and objectives.
Ongig’s Text Analyzer scans your job description text and makes suggestions for more inclusive language. If you’re using your own website to attract candidates, Ongig can also
help optimize your site, making it more searchable, inclusive, and friendly to diverse hires.
Crescendo is a woman and black-owned company with a mission to create an inclusive and healthy work environment for all. They offer DEI analytics that measure and track your company’s DEI initiatives in real-time, helping to spot trends and design initiatives based on what’s happening in the moment. Crescendo will also give recommendations to help improve your company’s diversity.
If this is your first DEI program, Diversity Dashboard is for you. This project management software will walk you through the steps of creating an effective DEI program, then helps you manage budgets, training, and employee participation in events. You’ll also get access to their learning hub, which is full of helpful DEI information and videos.
Diversity job boards
Did you know? You can post your open positions on job boards targeted towards specific communities, identities, backgrounds, or skill sets. Job boards like Diversity.com can help you connect with more diverse candidates and people who share your commitment to creating more inclusive work environments.
Makes it unbelievably simple to write an effective job posting, add your open positions to multiple job boards in just one click, and manage all your candidates in one place. With Homebase, you can also get help staying compliant with laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This gives you more time to focus on using inclusive language in your job descriptions, being thoughtful about your candidate selection, and incorporating DEI into your onboarding process.
Don’t have an HR department? No problem. Homebase’s on-call experts can help you develop a DEI plan that’s right for your business and help you keep it going strong.
Does building a diverse team seem too complicated for your small business? Homebase can help. Our tools and HR experts make hiring, onboarding, and team communication a snap. Now, you can focus on the bigger picture: creating a workplace that’s fair for everyone. Get started for free.
Diversity in the workplace statistics FAQS
What is diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace are concepts that focus on creating a fair, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all employees, regardless of their background or identity. By evaluating all the diversity in the workplace statistics, it’s clear more businesses need to take note. Here’s a breakdown of each element:
Diversity refers to a team that’s made up of a wide range of individuals with different characteristics, identities, and perspectives. This can include diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, socioeconomic background, and education.
Equity aims to ensure the fair treatment of all individuals within the workplace. It recognizes that not all employees start from the same place or face the same barriers, and aims to address historical disadvantages and systemic biases.
Inclusion involves creating an environment where all employees feel respected, valued, and included, regardless of their background or identity.
What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace?
The benefits of diversity in the workplace apply equally to employees and business owners. Employees often experience more happiness and higher job satisfaction, and feel valued and respected when they’re at work. Employers may see more productivity, better retention and less turnover, more innovation, stronger decision making, and even more financial success. Diversity in the workplace is a win for everyone.
What are the challenges of diversity in the workplace?
There can be a number of challenges with diversity in the workplace, which can make it difficult to implement and run a successful DEI program. Challenges can include resistance to change, no buy-in or accountability from managers, not having any real goals or metrics, and sustaining employee engagement
What should be included in a DEI strategic plan?
A successful DEI plan should include the following basic components:
- Clear goals and objectives
- Commitment and accountability from management
- Diversity in hiring and recruitment practices
- Ongoing training and education
- Regular communication and transparency
If you’ve never implemented a DEI plan before, there are lots of online tools and resources that can help you get started.