A survey conducted by a management consulting firm revealed that Asian employees were the demographic with the highest percentage of respondents to report feeling not included at work.
The study from Bain & Company, titled The Fabric of Belonging: How to Weave an Inclusive Culture, found that only 25% to 30% of employees felt fully included at work.
This was based on a survey of 10,000 individuals across all geographies, industries, seniority levels and demographic groups.
Only 16% of Asian men said they felt fully included at work and 20% of Asian women. Black women scored third lowest with 22%, a six percent difference from Asian men.
Of all the demographic groups surveyed, LGBTQ-plus women were the most likely to report feeling included at work, with 29% reporting that they felt fully included. Latinx women came in second highest at 26%, while Black men and straight women tied for third highest at 25%.
Straight white men and Latinx men came in at a close fourth, with 24%.
The study cited several benefits to having an inclusive work environment, including attracting and retaining diverse and talented employees.
On a more basic level, the report notes that the feeling of belonging on a team is extremely conducive to an employee’s overall well-being and performance, whereas the feeling of being excluded “sets off biological alarms in the brain” that resembles the ones “associated with physical pain.”
Bain & Company found that people’s descriptions of what an inclusive organization looks and feels like were “remarkably similar” across demographics. The firm pointed to this as a point of optimism, as it demonstrates that most were on the same page as to what the end goal looked like.
According to the report, a wide range of individuals agreed that an inclusive organization was one that was “diverse” and in which people were “heard, valued, and supported,” especially for their values and opinions.
The company admitted, however, that “fostering inclusion is deceptively difficult,” as everyone has “different views” on “how to get there.” They also noted that challenges with “assimilation” and “stereotypes” play a role in the workplace experiences of Asian employees.
For those who come from immigrant backgrounds, the report notes that the pressure to assimilate to Western cultural norms in a workplace setting, such as not bringing ethnic foods for lunch or not having cultural holidays recognized, can lead to feelings of isolation.
Stereotypes, or racism more broadly, especially due to associations with COVID-19, can also act as a barrier and cause employees to feel like they have to act or behave in a particular way to be accepted.
The company also predicts that junior colleagues are going to increasingly “insist” on bringing “more of their cultures and experiences” to the workplace.