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Majority of Americans Support Workplace DEI Initiatives

Corporate mentorship programs aimed at underrepresented groups received the most positive support in a new Washington Post poll.
Diversity People Group Team Union Concept; Shutterstock ID 379530769

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite recent broadsides from conservative activists against programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the majority of Americans support such initiatives, according to a new poll from The Washington Post and Ipsos.

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According to the survey, approximately six in 10 Americans believe DEI programs are "a good thing." An even greater proportion of respondents (69%) expressed support when given a more specific definition of the term: "programs to hire more employees from groups that are underrepresented in their workforce, such as racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities and to promote equity in the workplace."

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However, there were greater disparities among different demographic groups. While a majority of both Black and white Americans supported DEI programs, 83% of Black respondents responded positively compared to only 51% of white respondents. But, as with the overall results, the gap narrowed considerably once white respondents were given more specific details on what DEI encompasses. 

The Post also reported that individual programs can often generate a much broader base of support. Mentorship opportunities, internships and recruitment efforts aimed at underrepresented groups; anti-bias trainings; and corporate employee resource or affinity groups all received between 64% to 75% in positive views. 

The only program to receive a majority negative response was higher executive pay tied to diversity targets, with only 21% of Americans supporting the measure.

The response among the general population appears to reflect the positive approach multiple corporate groups have taken over the past few years in their own DEI initiatives. Some have already succeeded in hitting their targets, such as The Hershey Co. meeting its internal goal of 1:1 pay equity in the United States for women and for people of color. Others have incorporated programs into their business plans and employee retention work, such as The Wills Group using DEI metrics to help improve employee satisfaction.

The Post-Ipsos poll was conducted April 9-16 among a random sample of 1,029 U.S. adults, with a partially overlapping sample of 1,331 non-Hispanic Black adults who responded through the Ipsos Knowledge Panel. A spreadsheet with the full results of the survey can be found here.

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