Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, conversations about race and promoting diversity spread across the nation. And just as quickly as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) became significant in the workplace, these pillars now face scrutiny. Weighing the importance of DEI follows a trend in the corporate world – U.S. companies are slowing down promotions for Black professionals into management positions.
As explained in an article from The Wall Street Journal, U.S. companies have slowed advancement opportunities for Black professionals. The data shows that in 2022, for every 100 men of all races promoted to their first management role, 54 Black women were elevated. However, in 2021, 96 Black women were promoted for every 100 men. On the other hand, in 2022, only 66 Black men were promoted to their first management role for every 100 men of any race, as compared to 72 elevations in 2021.
Clearly, the regression of promotions and elevating Black men and women in the workplace comes with a myriad of problems – one of the main ones is a lack of representation and diversity among employees. Having a diverse representation in the workplace is crucial for creating a comfortable, inclusive environment for employees to express their opinions. When employees don’t see someone with a similar background progressing within the company, it sends a message that they may not have as many growth opportunities as their peers. Lack of representation affects employee morale and can even lead to a demotivating work environment.
The current trends are concerning for Black men and women. The pandemic has shifted companies’ focus from diversity to cutting costs and returning employees to the office. This setback in promoting Black professionals can have long-term consequences, making it harder to ascend to senior roles and delaying future promotions. As a result, promotion rates for Black professionals regressed to levels not seen since 2019.
It’s obvious to most observers that U.S. companies no longer foster diversity in the workplace. This begs the question, what needs to happen just to continuously make progress, secure diversity, and see representation in the workplace? It seems that when corporate leaders were paying attention, everyone was better off due to diversity efforts. Now, companies and c-suite executives need to re-examine their priorities and continue to think about diversity.
Promoting diversity in the workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s also beneficial for the business. A workforce representative of society has access to a wider range of talent, giving the company a better chance of finding the right person for the job. Valuing the differences of others ultimately brings everyone together, and can make a company more successful and foster a fair work culture.