New Employee Data Reveals the Gap Between Ambition and Action in how Companies Address Racial Justice and Equity
Only 26% of employees believe their employer has fulfilled most of its public commitments;
nearly 40% would likely quit their job if their company did not prioritize social or racial justice
CALGARY, Alberta – June 17, 2021 – Just ahead of Juneteenth, Benevity, Inc., the leading provider of global corporate purpose software, today released results from a survey commissioned to assess employee sentiment on companies’ commitments to address racial justice and equity. The data reveals the importance to employees of authentic corporate action on diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging.
A year following corporate North America’s awakening to racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Benevity’s survey found 80% of U.S. employees believe addressing racial injustice and equity is a central responsibility of the CEO and management, yet more than a quarter say company leadership has done little to nothing to actively address these issues in the past year, highlighting a gap between statement and action.
A staggering 77% of employees believe it is important for companies to allow difficult conversations around race and social issues to occur at work. And nearly 40% of employees said they would likely quit their jobs and go elsewhere if their company did not prioritize addressing social or racial injustice. The sobering results indicate that workplaces are playing an increasingly critical role in society by helping people grapple with difficult issues, engaging employees at all levels of the organization in vulnerable discussions and peer learning, and taking collective action on these issues.
“As business continues to be the most trusted institution in North America, the expectation has never been greater for companies to do more to tackle racial justice and equity — both inside and outside of the workplace,” said Benevity CEO Kelly Schmitt. “People are also looking to their employers to foster a sense of community where they can come together to process difficult societal challenges, make discoveries that enable them to grow personally and professionally, and ultimately adopt new behaviors and attitudes that can ripple out into the world to create broader cultural change.”
CEOs and corporate leadership simply cannot underestimate how important social and racial justice is to their people and the powerful role they play as role models for change.
— Kelly Schmitt, Benevity CEO
Key survey findings
People want racial and social injustice topics to have a meaningful place at work
- A majority (80%) of U.S. employees believe it is the responsibility of company leadership to take action in addressing racial injustice and equity, but nearly half (47%) have not seen or do not know if their company made any public commitments to address these issues in the last year.
- Only 26% of employees believe their employer has fulfilled most of its public commitments.
- 77% of employees believe it is important for companies to allow difficult conversations around race and social issues to occur at work.
People want their companies to do far more on issues of race, gender and inclusivity
- Nearly 30% of people say their CEO has done little to nothing to address these issues since the murder of George Floyd.
- The vast majority of employees (83%) say they want their company to prioritize racial injustice and workplace diversity in the coming year.
- Other issues professionals want their companies to address include gender inequity (33%) poverty (29%) LGBTQ+ issues (19%) and voter suppression (15%).
Companies’ action on racial injustice plays a growing role in employee recruitment and retention
- 70% of employees say they would be more likely to recommend their company to others if addressing social or racial injustice became a significant priority as part of its corporate culture.
- At the same time, nearly 40% of employees said they would likely quit their jobs if their company did not prioritize addressing social or racial injustice.
- This sentiment is even more pronounced among people of color, with 55% of Hispanic employees and 47% of Black employees likely to quit in addition to 35% of White employees.
Racial injustice and equity issues are a factor when deciding to return to the workplace
- As companies navigate a return to the workplace, nearly half (49%) of employees say the lack of inclusivity in their workplace makes them less likely to choose in-person work.
- And while 70% of C-suite and executive level employees believe leadership has shown more racial sensitivity in the workplace the last year, nearly 60% of entry level employees say they have seen either no change or less racial sensitivity in the same time period.
The companies that will lead in the future will be ones who embrace the new dynamics of their relationship with employees, customers and communities.
— Sona Khosla, Chief Impact Officer at Benevity
“The events of 2020 have made a permanent mark on how people think about the workplace. The employee-employer relationship has evolved far beyond a financial transaction, giving companies the opportunity to support their employees in new and life-changing ways,” added Sona Khosla, Chief Impact Officer at Benevity. “The companies that will lead in the future will be ones who embrace the new dynamics of their relationship with employees, customers and communities. They will actively and purposefully provide space for discussion on social and racial topics, facilitate opportunities for their people to build empathy, and chart a clear path to action on the issues their people care about most. The survey results reveal that we all have work to do and give us key insights into how we can support our clients in this area.”
About the Survey
The Benevity poll was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. employees – 500 from Fortune 1000 companies and 500 from mid-market companies with 1,000 – 2,500 employees, between May 24th and June 6th, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Benevity, a certified B Corporation, is a leading provider of global corporate purpose software, providing the only integrated suite of community investment and employee, customer and nonprofit engagement solutions. A finalist in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards, many iconic brands rely on Benevity’s cloud solutions to power their purpose in ways that better attract, retain and engage today’s diverse workforce, embed social action into their customer experiences and positively impact their communities. With software that is available in 20 languages, Benevity has processed more than 7 billion dollars in donations and 38 million hours of volunteering time, 340,000 positive actions and awarded one million grants to 303,000 nonprofits worldwide.
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