One of New Jersey’s economic strengths is its diverse workforce – and now new data underscores the fact that this asset grows stronger every year.
The recent 4th Annual State of Diversity Survey, commissioned by Taft Communications and NJBIA, shows that New Jersey employers have been making significant headway in building more diverse and inclusive workforces.
This poll, conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), found that 89% of working adults say they interact with people of different races or ethnicities at work, a 6% increase compared to 2016.
Workplaces are also striving to become more inclusive. Nearly three of every four respondents (70%) said they have taken some type of diversity and cultural awareness training – a 19% improvement from 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of people who say they have heard offensive comments at work about gender, race, religion or sexual orientation continues to decline, with 67% now reporting that they have “never” heard offensive racial or ethnic comments at work.
The trend lines are moving in the right direction, but there’s more work to do. For example, the poll also revealed there is a gender disconnect in how career advancement opportunities are perceived. Men were more likely to say that both genders have equal opportunities (62%), while only 55% of women shared that view. Whites were also more likely than non-whites to think that advancement opportunities are already equal for both genders in their workplaces.
Earlier this year, NJBIA partnered with FDU to bring together corporate executives, HR leaders and experts in diversity and inclusion (D&I) for roundtable discussions exploring successful strategies for creating a diverse and inclusive corporate culture – one that companies own from the top down and reinforce continually, not just once a year at an HR training event.
Two dynamic roundtables were held this past spring at FDU’s Florham Park and Teaneck campuses and two more are happening this month so that a white paper and D&I business “toolkit” can be produced later this year. The goal is to provide companies with a road map for implementing D&I policies and best practices, including education and mentoring.
D&I isn’t just about what’s morally right; there’s a business and financial case for it that cannot be understated. Activist shareholders at public companies, as well as clients up and down the supply chain, are demanding that boards of directors and C-suite executives have the gender and racial diversity reflective of the workforces they manage and the customers they do business with. Further, research by McKinsey & Co. and others has found that businesses with diverse workforces and management teams are more innovative, more productive and significantly more profitable.
Positive changes are already underway, but FDU and NJBIA want to help companies take it to the next level. Diversity is the first step, but it’s equally important to create a culture of real inclusion, where employees of all genders, generations and racial and cultural backgrounds feel they belong and have equal career opportunities.
NJBIA advances diversity in the C-suite and Boardroom though our Women Business Leaders Network and our annual Women Business Leader Forum. Last year’s forum hosted more than 500 men and women interested in helping women build the skills to take on leadership roles in their respective organizations and serve as mentors for the next generation. Now we are excited to be partnering with FDU on the “Faces of our Workforce” project. Please come share your ideas at our roundtables on Aug. 8 at FDU or Aug. 13 at NJBIA.
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