Representation shapes the work experience of black employees

Highlights of History

  • More white than black workers say their leaders at work are of the same race
  • Black workers with black leaders at work are more positive about their jobs

This study is presented to you by the Gallup Center on Black Voices. Register to receive the latest information.

WASHINGTON, DC – Black employees in the United States are significantly less likely than white workers to say that the leadership of their organizations includes people of the same race as them. Yet black workers who see black leaders at work have much more positive attitudes about their workplaces and jobs than black workers who do not see black leaders in their organizations.

Black and Hispanic workers less likely to see leaders of their own race

Thirty-seven percent of black workers who are employed full or part time strongly agree that blacks hold leadership positions in their organizations. Likewise, 40% of Hispanic workers report Hispanic leaders in their workplace. Yet 55% of white workers report working in organizations with white leaders. While perhaps not surprising, this evidence of a racial / ethnic gap in representation at the highest levels is striking.

Black and Hispanic workers less likely than white workers to report leaders of their own race in the workplace

People of my race / ethnicity hold leadership positions in my organization.

Black workers White workers Hispanic workers
% % %
5 “Strongly agree” 37 55 40
4 22 24 25
3 19 13 18
2 11 4 ten
1 “Strongly disagree” 11 4 8
GALLUP PANEL, NOV. 6-DEC. 1, 2020

These results come from the latest Gallup Center on Black Voices online survey conducted from November 6 to December 1, 2020. Over 8,000 respondents were polled, including over 3,500 white workers, over 2,000 black workers and over 2 000 Hispanic workers. .

Black workers with black leaders at work are more positive about their jobs

Among black workers who strongly agree that there are leaders of their same race in their workplace, the majority report more inclusive and fair workplaces in all nine aspects of work experiences . Meanwhile, small single-digit percentages of those who to disagree that there are leaders of their race in leadership positively assess these same experiences.

Among black employees who report working under the direction of their own race, two in three strongly agree that their employer is committed to building each employee’s strengths (66%) and that their organization addresses everything. the world fairly (66%).

Likewise, the majority of Black employees in companies with Black leaders also strongly agree with the other six positive work experiences:

  • have confidence that their employer will make sure they are treated well (62%)
  • have confidence in the ethics and integrity of their business (61%)
  • be treated with respect (58%)
  • feel comfortable being themselves at work (56%)

Black American Workers Who Say Their Race Is Represented In Workplace Leadership Show More Positive Ratings Of Their Workplace

% who strongly agree with each statement

Strongly Agree Blacks in Leadership Strongly Disagree Blacks in Leadership Difference
% % PCT points.
My current employer is committed to developing the strengths of each employee. 66 4 62
My organization is fair for everyone. 66 6 60
If I raise a concern about the way I am being treated, I have no doubts that my employer would do the right thing. 62 4 58
If I raised a concern about ethics and integrity, I have no doubts that my employer would do the right thing. 61 5 56
At work, I am treated with respect. 58 6 52
At work, I feel comfortable being myself. 56 7 49
PANNEAU GALLUP, 6 Nov-Dec 1, 2020

Final result

In response to nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd last spring, CEOs of many American companies have responded by adopting programs to increase diversity and representation. Yet Gallup’s latest race poll suggests that representation in the workplace remains unbalanced.

Black workers in the United States are less likely than white workers to say that there are people in their workplace who are of the same race as them, especially in leadership roles. Their perceptions reflect hard data. For example, among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only 1% (five out of 500) are black – a much lower percentage than the percentage of black workers in the overall American workforce. Likewise, black workers (7.8%) are much less likely than white workers (83.6%) to hold managerial positions in the US workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. .

Black workers who strongly agree that they work in companies run by black executives are much more likely than black workers who strongly agree not to indicate that their workplaces present elements of inclusion. The consequences of this difference are apparent in workplace outcomes, as black workers who see their race represented in leadership roles are much more positive about their employer’s inclusiveness than black workers who fail to see. their race represented at the top. The differences are stark enough to warrant serious attention in promoting the well-being and engagement of black employees.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

Maria D. Ervin