New research by XpertHR offers a lens into the drivers, limitations, and tactics of workplace diversity and inclusion.

Survey findings indicate that companies of all sizes demonstrate progress, yet continue to face challenges with the diversity of their workforces, according to Peggy Carter-Ward, author of XpertHR's Diversity in the Workplace: A Survey of the American Business Landscape.

Based on the survey of more than 600 companies, Carter-Ward pointed to strong progress in the last five years.

“In particular, workplace diversity efforts since 2010 have focused on permitting employees to take unpaid leave to observe religious, cultural, and ethnic holidays; and increasing efforts to recruit and hire a diverse workforce," she says.

However, some workplaces struggle with diversity more than others, largely due to the geographic location and ability to recruit.

The benefits of a well-rounded and diverse workforce are well documented.
Respondents indicated that the most challenging aspects of moving diversity and inclusion forward are time/commitment, benchmarking of diversity and inclusion efforts, and resistance to change of the employee community and culture.

Among the findings:

  • More than half of workplaces report that diversity has increased over the past five years.
  • Ethnic and racial diversity are traits most aggressively recruited, followed closely by veterans.
  • Geography played a role in the diversity of two thirds of workplaces, with one fifth reporting being hurt and more than four in 10 being helped by their geographic locale. Furthermore, global employers are far more likely to have diversity initiatives than their U.S.-only counterparts.
  • The three diversity initiatives prioritized for the next five years are formation of affinity groups; instituting mentoring programs and/or career development programs for diverse employees; and a focus on supplier diversity.

Carter-Ward pointed to unintended biases that often hamper diversity efforts, such as the phenomenon of "like hiring like" and potentially erroneous assumptions about details of the job requirements or an applicant's intrinsic capabilities.

"Yet," she says, "the benefits of a well-rounded and diverse workforce are well documented," noting that a workplace isn't optimized for talent if diversity isn't embraced and institutionalized.