Even as conservatives rail against “woke” workplaces, and target diversity, equity and inclusion programs in businesses, a new report from Pew Research shows that most Americans think DEI policies make offices better.
“DEI” is broadly described as policies and principles that promote belonging in an organization, especially among historically marginalized groups like women, racial minorities and people with disabilities. Sixty-one percent of the Pew survey respondents said their workplace has policies in place to ensure fairness in pay and promotion, and 52% said their office had DEI training or meetings.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said that focusing on DEI policies at work is a good thing, while 28% said it’s neither good nor bad, according to the survey results published Wednesday. Only 16% of respondents said that focusing on such policies is a bad thing.
Though some conservatives claim that workers are being inundated with DEI messaging, 54% percent of survey respondents said their job pays the right amount of attention to DEI. Only 14% said their job gives too much attention to it.
Women, people of color, young people and Democrats were much more likely than other groups to say DEI policies are good.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said DEI meetings and training had a positive impact at work, while 9% said they had a negative impact. Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say that such programs had a positive impact, but there was a notable gender divide — 47% of Republican women said DEI training was helpful, compared to just 28% of Republican men.
Thirty-six percent of all respondents said that being a man makes things easier at work. Forty-four percent of women said being a man makes it easier at work, while 29% of men said the same. More than half of Black and Asian people in the survey said that being white makes it easier at work, while only 24% of white people said the same.
Very low percentages of people of each race said that being a person of color can put them ahead, suggesting the idea that workplace DEI policies hold back white workers is not a very popular one.
As racial justice protests spread across the country after the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many workplaces put an increased emphasis on DEI programs. Three years on, conservatives are still leading a coordinated backlash to the rise in support for racial equity ― claiming that DEI policies and efforts to include marginalized communities necessarily happen at the expense of privileged groups like white people and men.
When Silicon Valley Bank failed this spring, largely because of deregulation policies championed in 2008, some conservative politicians blamed the company’s DEI measures. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called the institution “too woke to fail.”
Some Republican-led areas have even begun blocking DEI programs from public institutions. In Michigan, Ottawa County dismantled the local government’s DEI programs earlier this year, leaving residents worried about what it will mean for marginalized groups. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a leader in the conservative culture wars, just signed a law that defunds DEI programs at the state’s colleges and universities and limits how professors can approach the topic of race in their courses.
“DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination.’ And that has no place in our public institutions,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Monday. “This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida.”