This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 28, 2009

Differences in Work Attitudes---and what they really mean

The findings of a recently released large-scale study of workplace and development attitudes reveals that contrary to what many believe, minority employees are just as engaged (or disengaged) at work as their white colleagues. Specialist in attitude research, Sirota Survey Intelligence reviewed over 800,000 employee responses in 40 companies over the last five years.

Specifically, white employees in management were 80 percent "favorable on [employee] engagement", while minorities were at 81 percent. Non-management workers had similar results with whites scoring 76 percent "favorable on engagement" and minorities scoring at 79 percent. Bottom line, minorities were actually slightly more engaged than whites.

However, at the same time, African-Americans perceived less fairness in their workplace and development opportunities than all other ethnic groups surveyed. Among management employees, African-Americans polled at 61percent "favorable on fairness" versus whites at 75 percent, Hispanics at 74 percent, and Asians at 68 percent.

Not surprisingly, among non-management employees African-Americans polled even lower. African-Americans were only 59 percent "favorable on fairness" versus whites at 66percent, Hispanics at 67percent, and Asians at 64 percent.

Again, regarding "development opportunities", among managers, African-Americans perceived the least, although they recognized the same "advancement opportunities". On development opportunities, the discrepancy between African-Americans and other groups was five to six points, while on "advancement opportunities", all of the groups were almost at the same level of favorability.

Other highlights include the fact that Hispanic employees (both management and non-management at 83 and 89 percent respectively) were the most engaged group, while non-management Hispanic employees are also most favorable regarding their advancement opportunity. "This is great news for Corporate America as Hispanics represent the fastest growing minority at work," said Douglas Klein, President of Sirota. It is important to include Hispanics in training opportunities. Otherwise, "the pride and optimism felt today could wane", continued Klein.

So what do these findings mean for employers in the future? These data reflect that African-Americans and other minorities perceive a lack of fairness in their workplace. As more minorities rise into positions of power, we expect that the fairness numbers will level out or perhaps even tip in the opposite direction. People want to do business with and promote others who are like themselves.

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