How #MeToo and Diversity and Inclusion Policies Are Changing the Workplace

Americans that work for companies implementing diversity and inclusion policies in their workplaces are seeing positive results, including changed employee behaviors and increased transparency, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and SAP.

SAP and AP Poll: Infographic
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The poll, which looks to analyze workplace behaviors and actions over the last two years and in the wake of recent sexual misconduct and diversity issues, also found that most Americans think white males continue to have more advantages at work. And although a majority feel these recent movements will not have an impact on their workplace or them personally, those that work for companies instituting actual policy change around diversity and inclusion feel (and act) vastly different.

Who Has the Most Advantages Today?

Essentially, most Americans agree that white males have the most advantages in the workplace, with four out of 10 strongly agreeing that they do. Many also think women, African Americans, and Hispanics receive fewer advantages.

White workers don’t see it that way. Only 28 percent of white workers think they have more advantages, but if you ask others, 65 percent of African Americans and 53 percent of Hispanics say that white workers have the advantage.

The same trend exists if you ask men and women: 32 percent of men say they have more advantages at work compared to 51 percent of women who say that men have more advantages.

Who Stands to Gain?

While a considerable number of working Americans think things are going to improve for women (53 percent) and African Americans (43 percent) as a result of recent high-profile movements and pushes for diversity and inclusion, they do not think it will impact them directly or lead to any substantial change in their workplace or for them personally (more than 70 percent) unless their companies have implemented policies (see below).

College-educated workers are more likely than those with less education to think there will be a positive impact on working women: 62 to 47 percent. Those with higher incomes likewise are more likely than those with lower incomes to think so, at 59 to 46 percent.

More than twice as many people who work for companies that implemented diversity and inclusion policies believe that things will change for the better (43 percent) versus those that did not have any new diversity and inclusion policies implemented. Only 20 percent say things will change for the better.

What Are Companies Doing?

In the past two years, four out of 10 people say their company did implement new trainings or policies on diversity and inclusion. An overwhelming majority of people (more than 60 percent) whosaid their company implemented new policies agreed it was a positive thing and change came as a result.

Working adults who have seen new harassment policies at their workplace are more likely than those who have not to say the attention to sexual misconduct will bring change for the better to their place of work (43 versus 20 percent). They also are more likely to think things will change for them for the better, at 29 versus 15 percent.

Workers who report new harassment policies instituted in the last two years also are more likely than those who have not to say they have changed how they interacted with coworkers, at 43 versus 25 percent, and talked about sexual misconduct at the workplace, with 43 versus 28 percent.

Who’s Talking About It?

The poll also found that over the past year, about one-third of all working adults have talked about sexual misconduct in the workplace with coworkers because of the recent attention to #MeToo and other diversity and inclusions movements.

This number goes up to 43 percent for senior executives, compared to 31 percent of mid-level workers and 23 percent that are entry=level, and is true of both men and women in upper-level roles. However, there is a wide gender gap: 55 percent of senior and executive women have talked with coworkers about sexual misconduct compared with 36 percent of men in the same positions.

This higher number of women talking about the issue could be because women want to get this out there, want to be transparent on the issue, and want to set the right tone.

Are Diversity and Inclusion Important When Assessing Jobs and Potential Employers?

While 25 percent of Americans do not know enough about the #MeToo movement to have an opinion, those that do have a favorable view. Forty-five percent of U.S. workers like the #MeToo movement versus the 27 percent who do not. The number rises for females versus males (50 and 40 percent respectively) and for those who have been victims of sexual misconduct (60 percent).

Sixty-eight percent of Americans say that whether an employer has diversity and inclusion policies in place is moderately to very important to them, and this number doubles for victims of sexual misconduct. Ninety percent say that whether the employer has equal opportunities for advancements and raises is important when considering a job.

When looking at those who said diversity and inclusion policies were extremely important to them, the poll finds it to be much higher for African American (62 percent) and Hispanic workers (58 percent) than to white workers (27 percent), and slightly more for women (43 percent) than men (33 percent).