Employer Size Plays Dramatic Role in Workplace Diversity, Survey Indicates

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
Stephen R. Covey

XpertHR’s fall 2015 Workplace Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Trends survey provides numerous insights into the state of workplace diversity and inclusion, not the least regarding the dramatic variations in diversity based on employer size.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, but the larger the employer, the more likely the workplace has a formal diversity and inclusion program, staff dedicated to D&I, and active recruiting for enhanced diversity.

More than a quarter (27.3%) of workplaces report having no diversity initiative or diversity practices in place while nearly 3 out of 10 report that their workplace has a structured diversity initiative or diversity practices in place.

However, the larger the company, the more likely the company reports having a structured diversity initiative or diversity practices in place. A whopping 87% of employers with 10,000+ employees report having a formal or informal program in place, and 81.5% of employers with 5,000-9,999 employees have a formal or informal D&I program. On the other end of the spectrum, less than 6% of employers with less than 50 employees have a structured program and 37% have an informal diversity program, leaving 57% with no D&I program or practices. Employers of 50-249 employees are slightly more likely to have such programs/practices (16% formal, 40% informal) (Figure 1).

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Figure 1

Positive progress on any initiative or strategy is more likely with dedicated attention. To that end, some companies are creating positions specific to help drive their diversity initiatives forward. Job titles such as Diversity Recruiting Director, Diversity and Inclusion Director, Director of Diversity and Culture, Diversity Strategy and Operations Specialist, Global Diversity Manager, Director of Diversity, Diversity Manager, Vice President of Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer are increasingly commonplace.

While overall, slightly less than 32% of respondents indicate having staff dedicated exclusively to diversity and inclusion efforts and over 63% indicate not having dedicated staff, there are significant variations based on employer size.

The smaller the company, the less likely the employer has staff dedicated to diversity (Figure 2).  By the narrow employee size bands, the likelihood of an employer having dedicated D&I staff virtually doubles with each increased band, starting with a less than 10% and increasing to over 70% for the largest of employers.

D and I staff dedicated by size

Figure 2

Notably, more than half of the respondents report having diversity of their workplace increasing either significantly or slightly over the past five years while less than 3% report the diversity of their workplace decreasing significantly or slightly.

The smaller the employer, the more likely the workplace reports having no change or negative change compared to the larger workplaces where the larger the workplace, the more likely the change in the last five years has improved. For the smallest of companies (less than 50 employees), just over 40% report having their diversity increase either somewhat or significantly, while employers with more than 5000 employees the number jumps to 70% (Figure 3).D and I last five years by size

Other notable differences in diversity and inclusion trends among large and small employers:

  • Measuring diversity – Less than half of the smallest companies indicted they had measured their diversity efforts over the past five years while over 80% of the largest companies have.  The smaller companies indicated plans to start to measure their diversity efforts and results in the next five years.
  • Formation of affinity groups – Larger companies are more likely to have already pursued forming affinity groups, where smaller companies are more likely to be pursuing this effort in the coming five years.
  • Same-sex couple benefits – Larger companies are more likely to have provided certain same-sex couple benefits than smaller companies in the last five years, with the smaller companies looking to address this in the coming five years.

About the survey

To find out more about the current state of diversity in US workplaces, XpertHR conducted a survey in Nov. 2015. With more than 600 responses, the survey results provide a lens into diversity and inclusion efforts and progress over the past five years, current focus and challenges, and what companies are looking to focus on in the coming five years. Respondents hailed from all 50 states, and a full range of small to very large employers, and across a wide swath of industries.

Nearly half of respondents were from workplaces with less than 250 employees.

Diversity Survey Report 2015-16 - CTA