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One in Four Black Workers Report Discrimination at Work

One in Four Black Workers Report Discrimination at Work

Story Highlights

  • One in four Black, Hispanic workers report recent discrimination at work
  • Discrimination reports even higher among young Black employees
  • Three in four Black workers say the discrimination they felt was race-based

This study is brought to you by the Gallup Center on Black Voices. Sign up to receive the latest insights.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A national conversation on racism and injustice that received renewed attention last summer has permeated virtually all areas of American society, including U.S. workplaces. As employers consider their role in the conversation and the actions they should take, the Gallup Center on Black Voices finds that about one in four Black (24%) and Hispanic employees (24%) in the U.S. report having been discriminated against at work in the past year.

Reports of Experiences of Discrimination at Work, by Race/Ethnicity
In the past 12 months, have you felt discriminated against at work?
U.S. employees 18
Black employees 24
Hispanic employees 24
White employees 15
Gallup Panel, Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020

These findings, derived from a large-scale Gallup web survey conducted in English Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020, reveal that workplace discrimination reported by Black and Hispanic workers exceeds reports of such experiences among White employees (15%) by a substantial margin. More than 8,000 respondents were surveyed, including more than 3,500 White workers, more than 2,000 Black workers and more than 2,000 Hispanic workers.

Experiences of workplace discrimination are similar between Black men (27%) and Black women (23%), as well as between Black employees in households earning less than $90,000 annually (24%) and those in households earning $90,000 or more (25%).

Age, however, is a significant factor in Black employees' experiences with workplace discrimination. Black workers younger than 40 (31%) are almost twice as likely as Black workers aged 40 and older (17%) to report having experienced discrimination at work in the past year. This conforms with the Center's previous findings that young Black adults experience microaggressions at greater rates.

Young Hispanic employees (31%) are the only other racial or ethnic subgroup to report such a high level of discrimination at work. This figure is nearly twice as high as the rate among Hispanic employees aged 40 and older (17%).

Race-Based Discrimination the Most Common Type Experienced by Black Workers

In a follow-up question among those who perceived discrimination, 75% of Black workers indicated that the discrimination they experienced was based on their race or ethnicity -- considerably higher than figures for Hispanic (61%) and White employees (42%).

The 75% figure among Black employees is constant across gender, age and income subgroups, with similar proportions of each saying the discrimination they experienced in the past 12 months was due to their race.

Reports of the Type of Discrimination Experienced at Work, by Race/Ethnicity
Still thinking about the past 12 months, were you discriminated against in any of the following ways? Race and/or ethnicity
Yes, discriminated against because of race/ethnicity
U.S. employees 52
Black employees 75
Hispanic employees 61
White employees 42
Among those who experienced discrimination at work in the past 12 months
Gallup Panel, Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020

Bottom Line

Black Americans experience various mistreatments at much higher rates than other racial or ethnic groups do. And while racial discrimination in the workplace is illegal under federal law, about one in four Black employees report having been on the receiving end of discrimination at work in the past year alone.

Gallup has previously found that employee engagement "is linked to how an employee feels their employer would respond to discrimination concerns" and that engaged employees are much more confident that their employer would "do what is right" compared with those who are less engaged. Previous research from Gallup also finds that employees are less likely to feel discriminated against at work if they have great managers who build a culture of high engagement and respect.

Among young Black employees, who are early in their careers and looking to establish a professional footing, experiences of workplace discrimination are reported at an even higher rate. Early experiences in the workplace shape employees' careers -- and negative experiences can have an impact on their trajectories and future attitudes about work, as well as their opportunities to excel and feel accepted on a team.

Gallup has found that what everyone in the world wants is a good job -- but that pursuit is made harder for Black Americans, of whom one in four say they experience discrimination on the job.

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