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Diversity in the Workplace — What’s High School Got to Do With It?

You probably remember them from high school: The dreaded (or anticipated) “Most likely to/Best” lists. Best eyes: Sandy K. Funniest: Alex S. (you totally thought you had that one in the bag). Most likely to forget their kids at the grocery store: Lauren D. (yes, this one actually exists). Most likely to succeed: ??? This one, as many other results looking back, may not have panned out the way everyone thought it might. From the time we were filling these “popularity”-type lists out (or ducking from the paper airplane printouts of them being hurled at us), the way many of us define success, or perceive those most likely to achieve personal or professional success, has changed — and over time, so has the world around us.

Much is different since high school (including, hopefully, your hair style and taste for greasy squares of cafeteria pizza). And in the workplace, over the past few decades or even the past few years — the path to success, at least professionally, has become more open to diverse workers. The makeup of the U.S. civilian labor force has changed significantly, with women accounting for half of all workers and companies becoming both racially and ethnically diverse.

Diversity and CompensationCareerBuilder’s 2011 Diversity in the Workplace Study surveyed more than 2,500 diverse workers to get a better grasp of how their work experience has evolved as their numbers in the U.S. workforce have grown. Much of what we found may surprise you. The study targeted the top 20 markets in the U.S. based on population, and the results for six diverse segments — African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, workers with disabilities, and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) workers.

The survey findings point to continued inequalities between diverse and non-diverse segments in pay, career advancement and feelings of discrimination. At the same time, certain diverse segments ranked higher than non-diverse workers in compensation, reflecting a movement toward better equality in the workplace.

So, with that said, here’s a “Most likely to” list that hopefully won’t cause those high school-esque butterflies, but will instead make us all take a hard look at how far we’ve come toward workplace equality — and where we’re still falling short.

Compensation

Most likely to earn $100,000 or more:

LGBT workers, who lead the pack at 18 percent, outpacing non-diverse workers by 1 percentage point. Women were the least likely to report making $100,000 or more at only 6 percent, along with African Americans and Hispanic workers at 8 percent.

Most likely to earn less than $50,000:

Disabled workers. Among all segments, workers with disabilities were the most likely to report earning less than $50,000 at 58 percent, followed by women at 52 percent and Hispanics close behind them at 51 percent.

Discrimination

Least likely to feel discriminated against in their current job?

Asian workers, at 11 percent, were least likely to feel discriminated against in the workplace — and trended below non-diverse workers who were asked this question, 14 percent of whom said they felt discriminated against.

Most likely to feel discriminated against in their current job?

African American workers. When asked about their experience as a diverse worker, 25 percent of African American workers said they felt discriminated against in their current job — the highest of all segments asked. The next-highest group was disabled workers, 22 percent of whom reported feeling discriminated against, followed by women (19 percent) and LGBT workers (18 percent).

Career Advancement

Least likely to hold a management position?

Asian workers. Higher salaries don’t always mean higher titles, as survey results reinforced. Because while Asian workers were among the highest segment as far as earning six figures, they were the least likely to report holding a management position (only 11 percent did). Women and African Americans were right behind, with only 15 percent from each group reporting that they held a management position.

Conversely, 26 percent of non-diverse workers reported holding management titles, the highest percentage of all segments, followed by 22 percent of LGBT workers.

Plans to change jobs

Most likely to change jobs once the economy improves?

Asian workers (47 percent), African American workers (43 percent) and disabled workers (42 percent) are the highest segments to report a plan to change jobs once the economy improves. Nearly two in five of all diverse workers (38 percent) plan to make a move with an improving economy. Despite ranking lower in pay and title, women and Hispanic workers are the least likely diverse workers to pursue new positions, at 31 percent and 35 percent respectively.

What does the report tell us?

Well, while old high school lists may be good for a laugh, CareerBuilder’s 2011 Diversity in the Workplace Study results give us a landmark that we can use to consider how we’re educating about and treating all types of workers in our own workplaces, and gain new perspective on the larger diversity picture as it stands. And much like Debbie N.’s feathered mullet Best Hair award, it’s promising to think that we will look back on this several years from now and marvel at how different things “used to be” — and how much better they are now.

As Dr. Sanja Licina, Senior Director of Talent Intelligence & Consulting at CareerBuilder, says, “While companies have made strides in creating an inclusive workplace for all workers, there is still work to be done, especially n the areas of hiring, compensation and career advancement.”

Read the full report for other interesting details about discrimination, pay, and why some diverse workers don’t market themselves as such when looking for a position — or check out the infographic for a snapshot.

What are your thoughts on the report findings?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
6 comments
Chris Patty
Chris Patty

"Non-diverse" as a demographic identifier is patently ridiculous. Diversity is a matter of perspective only. I am a 50 year old white male, and from the perspective of the other group member in your example I am very bit as diverse as any other member. Calling me "non-diverse" makes about as much sense as calling a woman "non-male"

Chris Patty
Chris Patty

"Non-diverse" as a demographic identifier is patently ridiculous. Diversity is a matter of perspective only. I am a 50 year old white male, and from the perspective of the other group member in your example I am very bit as diverse as any other member. Calling me "non-diverse" makes about as much sense as calling a woman "non-male"

Amy Chulik
Amy Chulik

Thanks for reading, Ben -- and glad to hear it was useful info for you.

Amy Chulik
Amy Chulik

Thanks for reading, Ben -- and glad to hear it was useful info for you.

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