Underrepresented workers are happier when leaders advocate for social issues

Women and ethnic minority workers like working for organisations that take DEI seriously with leadership that speaks up on social issues

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are now supported by a majority of the workforce, according to a new US survey by media company CNBC and software firm SurveyMonkey. Still, minorities also want leaders to advocate for important social and political issues.

Their latest Workforce Happiness Survey (2021) found that 78% of US employees said it’s “important for them to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion,” where the results prove there’s “a correlation between DEI efforts and workforce happiness.”

The Workforce Happiness Index measures employee happiness out of 100; with those that said: “their companies are doing ‘about the right amount’ to prioritise diversity, equity and inclusion have a happiness index score of 75, while those who say their companies are ‘not doing enough’ have a happiness index score of 63.”

While the study found that one-third of workers, (33%) said their organisation is doing significant work on DEI, 37% said their organisation is doing “some” work, which shows a worrying lack of commitment to DEI from businesses.

DEI, employee happiness and minority inclusion

The survey revealed that workers that believe their organisations don’t do enough to improve DEI are more likely to be unhappy at work. They are also less likely “to say they are well paid and significantly less likely to say their companies provide adequate opportunities for them to advance their careers“.

Even those who believe their organisation is “doing too much to improve DEI in the workforce” are more likely to be happier workers.

The research shows that employees see advocating for social and political issues as a key element of leadership today (60%), while 58% “support their own employers speaking out on social and political issues”.

A significant minority of workers (36%) “support their employers speaking out regardless of whether they agree with the employer’s position.” In contrast, underrepresented workers, including women and ethnic minorities, “are far more likely than men and white workers to support companies’ speaking out,” which shows that employers could risk alienating minority staff if they fail to speak up about important social issues.

In terms of recruiting and retaining more underrepresented workers, the survey shows that working for a business that pursues DEI as a business goal is important to these groups; women (86%) are more likely than men (72%) to work for a pro-DEI organisation. Furthermore, Asians (88%), Blacks (87%), and Hispanics (85%) are more likely than whites (75%) to consider it important to work for a pro-DEI organisation.

In-person contact likely to make workers happy

In terms of returning to office-based working following COVID-19, 58% of employees said they “value being able to work with others in-person ‘a lot'”. At the same time, over half expect to have better opportunities for career progression by working in the office instead of working remotely.

Laura Wronski, Lead Researcher at SurveyMonkey, said: “As companies plan for the post-COVID future of work, fewer than one in four workers who are still working remotely expect to return to the office on a full-time basis. Organisations have spent the past year helping their employees stay productive while working through a crisis, but now they have to pivot to create a new normal that ensures their workforce continues to be happy for the long-term, no matter where they are working.”

To download the survey and measure employee happiness in your own organisation, click here.


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