Nearly 80% of respondents support businesses taking active steps to reflect the racial diversity of America and believe diversity is likely to make business more profitable and innovative
New York, NY – A new national survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by the Black Economic Alliance (BEA) Foundation – the nation’s leading organization harnessing the collective expertise and influence of Black business leaders to advance work, wages, and wealth across the Black community – released today shows that business initiatives intended to support and increase diversity in corporate America are overwhelmingly supported and should be continued. Data from the survey clearly indicate that the vast majority of Americans across racial, ideological, and generational lines:
- Believe that corporate America should reflect the racial diversity of America;
- Support businesses taking active steps to make sure that companies reflect America’s racial diversity; and
- Agree that racial diversity in business leads to greater profitability and innovation.
“This poll’s message is clear: Americans of all races, political ideologies, and generations agree that racial diversity is good for business,” said BEA CEO Samantha Tweedy. “Americans overwhelmingly agree that diversity initiatives in the workplace make companies more profitable and innovative. In this moment, business leaders should double-down on efforts to make sure their companies reflect the racial diversity of the American population. BEA stands ready to provide the tools to help them do just that.”
- Overall, US adults overwhelmingly support businesses taking active steps to make sure companies reflect the diversity of the American population (78% support vs. 22% oppose). Most notably, there is broad support across racial, generational, and ideological lines for companies’ efforts to increase diversity. Specifically, this is supported by:
- At least 75% of each race/ethnicity polled (75%White, 78% Hispanic, 88% Black);
- A majority across political ideologies (67% of Republicans, 76% of Independents, 90% of Democrats); and
- A broad coalition across generations (74% Boomers+; 76% of Gen X; 83% of Gen Z; 83% Millennials).
- Taking it a step further, similar numbers agree that corporate America should reflect the diversity of the American population (81% agree vs. 19% disagree). Specifically, and most notably, this is supported by:
- 81% of white Americans;
- 74% of Republicans, 78% of Independents, and 91% of Democrats; and
- Roughly 4 in 5 in each generational group (80% Boomers+; 81% Gen X; 83% Millennials; 78% Gen Z).
- When thinking about effects of racial diversity on a business, Americans overwhelmingly agree that there would be positive impacts on the following:
- The ability to understand a broader set of customers (87% say there would be a positive impact)
- The ability to reach a broader set of customers (86%)
- The ability to innovate (84%)
- How well an employee does their job (82%)
- Talent recruitment/hiring (80%)
- Compliance and managing legal risk (80%)
- Profitability or making money (79%)
- Employee retention (79%)
- Americans are highly misinformed regarding what percentage of America’s 500 largest companies have Black CEOs. On average, Americans think 19% of the 500 largest companies have a Black CEO. In actuality, only approx. 2% of America’s 500 largest companies have a Black CEO.
- Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) answered between 0% – 5%, with just over 1 in 10 (14%) answering with 1% or 2%. A quarter (24%) answered between 6% – 19%, and nearly 4 in 10 (37%) guessed 20% or more.
- The average for Black Americans (24%) is also significantly higher than both Hispanic (19%) and white (18%), again with averages for all being much higher than the actual ~2%.
- The average answer for young Americans is significantly higher than older, however all averages are higher than actuality (23% Gen Z, 23% Millennials vs. 17% Gen X, 14% Boomers+). The higher numbers among younger Americans points to the possibility that they may be more optimistic about the impact of current DE&I efforts.
- When provided with the actual representation of Black CEOs across America’s largest 500 companies (approx. 2%), a strong majority (71%) said this number was not enough.
- All racial/ethnic groups similarly agree that ~2% is not enough (76% Black, 75% Hispanic, 69% white).
- Interestingly, the oldest and youngest Americans are more likely to say this representation is not enough compared to those in the middle (76% Boomers+, 74% Gen Z vs. 67% Millennials and 69% Gen X), with Boomers+ being significantly more likely than both Millennials and Gen X.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Black Economic Alliance Foundation from August 8-9, 2023, among 2025 adults ages 18 and older. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.7 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. To view full poll results click here.
About the Black Economic Alliance Foundation
The Black Economic Alliance Foundation is the nation’s leading organization harnessing the collective expertise and influence of Black business leaders and aligned advocates to build economic prosperity and generational wealth for the Black community. We partner with leaders across the public, private, and social sectors to champion policy reimagination, develop investment and philanthropic programs, commission research, and elevate national understanding of the inextricable link between the health of the Black economy and the entire American economy. The BEA Foundation is the 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliate of the Black Economic Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of Black business leaders and allies committed to advancing work, wages, and wealth in the Black community. | foundation.blackeconomicalliance.org