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Economy
Most U.S. Managers Not Fully Prepared to Talk About Race
Economy

Most U.S. Managers Not Fully Prepared to Talk About Race

Story Highlights

  • 42% of managers strongly agree that they are prepared to talk about race
  • Less than half of managers report having received diversity training
  • Managers who have received training are more prepared for conversations

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About four in 10 U.S. managers (42%) strongly agree that they are prepared to have meaningful conversations about race and equality with their teams, which means the majority feel less than fully prepared. This shortfall is evident among U.S. managers regardless of their race, age or gender.

However, according to the recent Gallup Panel study of managers, those who strongly agree that their organization is committed to improving racial justice and equality in the workplace are more than three times as likely to express preparedness for these conversations (73%) as managers who do not strongly agree that their organization is committed to improving racial justice (21%).

Managers' Preparedness to Discuss Issues of Race With Their Teams
I feel prepared to have meaningful conversations about race and equality with my team(s).
Strongly agree
%
Among all U.S. managers 42
Among managers who strongly agree their organization is committed to improving racial equality 73
Among managers who do not strongly agree their organization is committed to improving racial equality 21
Gallup Panel, Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020

Underscoring these findings, research from Boston Consulting Group reveals the importance of managers' role in connecting employees with their organization's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Managers Who Receive Training Much More Prepared for Conversations on Race

Less than half of managers (41%) report having attended a training or education program focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, racism, racial justice or a similar topic, a similar rate among U.S. employees at large (42%).

Meanwhile, 38% of managers say they have attended a town hall, a listening session, or a team or company-wide meeting focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, racism or racial justice. A similar percentage of employees overall have attended this kind of town hall (35%).

U.S. Managers' and Employees' Reports of Attending Training or Town Halls on Racial Issues
Have you participated in each of the following in the past six months? (% Yes)
U.S. managers U.S. employees
% %
A training or education program focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, racism, racial justice or a similar topic 41 42
A town hall, listening session or team/companywide meeting focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, racism or racial justice 38 35
Gallup Panel, Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020

Employees in larger companies -- those with 100 or more associates -- are more likely than those in smaller organizations to have received training and attended town halls or listening sessions.

Such training is key to managers' preparedness to have these important conversations. A majority of managers who report having attended a training or education program on racial issues strongly agree that they feel prepared to have meaningful conversations about race and equality with their teams (55%). Similarly, a majority of those who attended a town hall or listening session report feeling prepared to have these conversations (56%). Meanwhile, among managers who did not attend company-sponsored training or town halls, only 29% report feeling prepared to have meaningful conversations with their teams about race and equality.

Managers' Preparedness to Discuss Issues of Race, by Participation in Training or Town Halls on Racial Issues
I feel prepared to have meaningful conversations about race and equality with my team(s). (% Strongly agree)
Attended Did not attend
% %
Training or education program 55 29
Town hall, listening session or team/companywide meeting 56 29
Gallup Panel, Nov. 6-Dec. 1, 2020

Bottom Line

Front-line managers influence employee experiences at work more so than any other company representation. Gallup estimates that managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, a critical metric of business performance and employees' commitment to their workplace.

Given heightened sensitivity in the past year to matters of race relations, many employees are looking to their manager to initiate productive and effective conversations about race and equality. Employees' views on current events and national conversations about race do affect their overall employee experience, and managers should be aware of these dynamics.

Managers' preparedness to discuss issues of racism and racial justice could be the result of their company's commitment to addressing these issues, but it could also work in reverse -- that a manager's perception of their company's commitment stems from the preparedness the organization has provided the manager to discuss these issues.

Most U.S. managers are less than fully prepared for these conversations and have not participated in any formal company training about diversity or inclusion. However, participating in even one training event or companywide meeting about race significantly strengthens managers' comfort with having these important conversations. This shows that the entry barrier for workplaces to prepare managers is low and that investment in training can pay dividends for fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

Author(s)

Ilana Ron Levey is the Senior Director, Public Sector Consulting at Gallup.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/329282/managers-not-fully-prepared-talk-race.aspx
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