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Study Points to Improvements in Workplace Equality, But Disparity in Pay and Career Advancement

Among all segments, workers with disabilities were the most likely to report earning less than $50,000, at 58 percent, followed by women at 52 percent and Hispanics at 51 percent.

June 13, 2011
Related Topics: Strategy and Management
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Chicago — June 13

During the last few decades, the makeup of the U.S. civilian labor force has changed significantly, with women accounting for half of all workers and companies becoming both racially and ethnically diverse.

CareerBuilder surveyed more than 1,300 diverse workers to gauge how their work experience has evolved with their growing proportions in the U.S. workforce. The study focused on larger economies and workforces, targeting the top 20 markets in the U.S. by population. The results for six diverse segments - African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, workers with disabilities and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) workers – were compared to non-diverse workers, defined as Caucasian males who are not LGBT and not disabled. The national survey was conducted from Feb. 21 to March 10.

The findings point to continued inequalities between diverse and non-diverse segments in pay, career advancement and feelings of discrimination. Women and Hispanic workers were twice as likely to hold an administrative or clerical entry-level job as non-diverse workers. African-American workers were nearly twice as likely. More than half of women, Hispanics and workers with disabilities reported earning less than $50,000 compared to three in 10 non-diverse workers.

At the same time, certain diverse segments ranked higher than non-diverse workers in compensation, reflecting a movement toward better equality in the workplace. LGBT workers were the most likely of all segments to earn six figures, while both Asian and LGBT workers were the most likely to earn $50,000 or more.

“The U.S. workplace has experienced fundamental shifts over the last two decades that have had a major impact on business, including economic downturns, the introduction of new technology and the strengthening of laws designed to promote equality,” said Dr. Sanja Licina, senior director, talent intelligence and consulting at CareerBuilder. “While companies have made strides in creating an inclusive workplace for all workers, there is still work to be done, especially in the areas of hiring, compensation and career advancement.”

Among all segments, workers with disabilities were the most likely to report earning less than $50,000, at 58 percent, followed by women at 52 percent and Hispanics at 51 percent. Asian workers were the least likely to earn less than $50,000 at 25 percent, followed by 32 percent of LGBT workers and 31 percent of non-diverse workers.

Three in five (62 percent) Asian and LGBT workers reported making $50,000 or more, the highest of all diverse segments and two percentage points higher than non-diverse workers. Disabled workers were the least likely to report a salary of $50,000 or higher at 37 percent, followed by women at 41 percent and Hispanic workers at 43 percent.

In the six-figure category, LGBT workers lead all segments at 18 percent, outpacing non-diverse workers by 1 percentage point. Women were the least likely to report making more than $100,000 at 6 percent along with African Americans and Hispanic workers at 8 percent.

When looking at the job levels, higher salaries aren’t necessarily involving weightier titles. While Asian workers were the most likely to report salaries of $50,000 or more and were among the highest for earning six figures, they were the least likely to report holding a management position (11 percent). Most Asian workers (69 percent) fall into the professional/technical category and were the most likely of all segments to work in technology-related positions. Disabled workers also ranked high in the professional/technical category at 62 percent, and were the most likely of all segments to work in health-related positions and social assistance.

One in four (26 percent) of non-diverse workers reported holding management titles, the highest of all segments, followed by 22 percent of LGBT workers. In addition to Asian workers, women and African-Americans reported the lowest tendency to hold management roles at 15 percent each.

Nearly half of Hispanic workers (49 percent) and two out of five women (40 percent) reported having an entry-level administrative/clerical position, the highest of all segments.

When asked about their overall experience as a diverse worker, one in four African-American workers (25 percent) reported feeling discriminated against in their current job, the highest of all segments. They were followed by disabled workers (22 percent), Hispanic workers (21 percent), women (19 percent) and LGBT workers (18 percent). Asian workers (11 percent) were least likely to feel discriminated against in the workplace and trended below non-diverse workers who came in at 14 percent.

Workers are aware of the improving employment landscape and are making plans to find better earning and advancement opportunities. Nearly two in five diverse workers (38 percent) plan to look for new jobs as the economy improves.

Almost half of Asian workers (47 percent) plan to change jobs in a better economy followed by African-American workers (43 percent) and disabled workers (42 percent). Despite ranking lower in pay and title, women (31 percent) and Hispanic workers (35 percent) are the least likely of diverse workers to pursue new positions.

More than half (51 percent) of non-diverse workers feel diverse workers have a better chance of landing a new job. Thirty-four percent of diverse workers agree. However, two-thirds of diverse workers don’t market themselves as diverse when looking for a position. Of these workers, 25 percent believe marketing themselves as diverse will lessen their chances of getting a job interview.

Source: CareerBuilder

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