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Experience Readers Say Workplace Diversity is About Many Kinds of Difference

By Jenna Lebel and Andrea Calabretta

Our January '08 survey on Diversity in the Workplace elicited a lot of comments from readers.

One in particular wrote to say that the second question--which asked you to identify the most important aspect of workplace diversity (i.e., racial, religious, etc.)--oversimplified the matter.The problem was that you could only select one answer. As one reader wrote, "Many people are concerned with more than just one form of diversity in the workplace...people are socially impacted by several factors and not just one."

We think she makes a good point. If you're a person who cares about diversity in the workplace, it's hard to isolate just one kind of diversity as most important. You'd probably be happiest with a variety of people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as a balance between genders, among people of different intellectual and political viewpoints, and so on.

However, what we found most revealing in this survey was the results of the first question, which asked you to rank how important workplace diversity is in your life. Of 120 employees surveyed, 82% reported that workplace diversity is very important. A much smaller margin (16%) said diversity is only somewhat important in the workplace, while just 2% of respondents felt diversity was not important at all.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 66% of the population of the United States participates in the workforce. Women constitute more than half of that workforce, while minorities make up 17% of the total. And yet our workplaces still do not reflect the tapestry of experiences and backgrounds that make up the United States. Our survey results make clear that Experience users are conscious of the strides that still need to be taken toward a truly diverse--and truly equal--work force.

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