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Older generations fail to acknowledge ongoing racial prejudices

Analysing concerning new data, experts behind EDGE Empower, the leading software for workplace diversity, equity and inclusion, detail why organizations must engage with ongoing DE&I issues in the workplace and understand where different generations converge and where they diverge in their values and expectations. 

Three years on from the Black Lives Matter protests, new findings suggests that older generations are naïve to the racial prejudices being faced by ethnic minorities at work. 

three quarters of 50–64-year-olds do not believe that those from ethnic minority backgrounds face greater discrimination in the workplace than white employees, in a new analysis of YouGov data. 

There are as many as five generations present within a workforce at the same time, bringing new complexities and dynamics. However, these findings are concerning, as they indicate progress towards equity, respect and rights for all is still lacking, despite the momentum generated by movements like BLM. 

Furthermore, 17% of the age group believe that white employees actually face a higher level of discrimination, significantly contradicting the opinion of younger workers, who largely agree that ethnic minorities experience discrimination at a greater level*. 

When it comes to accessing new jobs, similarly, a surprising 85% of 50-64-year-olds claim that those from ethnic minority backgrounds face no greater discrimination, whereas over half (51%) of 18-24-year-olds agree that they do. 

While older age groups are failing to acknowledge racial prejudices, the opinion of the ‘woke generation’ reflects the ongoing lack of progress when it comes to DE&I in the workplace. Although we have seen organization-wide initiatives and programmes implemented, CEOs and senior leadership have struggled to apply the rigour and discipline required to accelerate DE&I progress when there is pressure to meet short-term financial goals. 

Aniela Unguresan, founder of EDGE Certified Foundation, explains, “The CEO needs board support to do more than tinker at the margins by updating hiring policies and arranging bias training sessions.

To lead board directors more effectively and put the business on a consequential path, CEOs must present the board with a vision that ties the organization to the world in which we live; championing intergenerational collaboration and embedding DE&I goals as fundamental to the company’s sustainable business success.” 

While we are still waiting for real change in terms of DE&I within many organizations, it is clear that there is a generational divide when it comes to awareness of this. The time is now for organizations to both engage with these issues and understand where different generations converge and where they diverge in their values and expectations.

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