Workplace Divided

August 31, 2023

Comprehensive study of workplace discrimination in the United States.

Since 2021, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development has been exploring workers’ perceptions of and experiences with racial and ethnic discrimination at work, and opinions of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices. The study, funded by WorkRise at the Urban Institute, included collaborations with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, an expert advisory panel, and Delaware State University.

The study included a survey, conducted in November and December 2022, using a comprehensive, national probability-based sample of 3,277 full- and part-time U.S. workers, including:

  • 605 Asian-American workers,
  • 915 Black workers,
  • 802 Latino workers, and
  • 955 White workers.

In preparing the survey, Heldrich Center researchers completed a comprehensive review of the literature on workplace discrimination, interviewed subject-matter experts, conducted a pilot survey fielded by NORC, and completed 18 individual interviews with workers to test question wording. Following the nationwide survey, Heldrich Center researchers conducted 20 in-depth, one-on-one interviews with workers to explore the nuances of the issues raised in the survey.


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Background, Research Questions, Survey Goals and Methods, and Survey Overview

Perceptions of Workplace Discrimination

Diversity and Equity, and Inclusion and Discrimination

Opinions and Experiences: Economic Mobility

The Role of Government and Employers




End Notes


List of Figures

List of Tables

Appendix A: Literature Summary and Selected Past Surveys and Studies

Appendix B: Project Approach/Survey Methodology, Limitations, and Other Research Notes

Appendix C: Main Survey Questionnaire and Topline

Appendix D-1 and D-2: Post-pilot Survey Individual Interview Guide and Post-main Survey Indidividual Interview Guide

Appendix E: Expert Interviews/Literature Review Takeaways

Appendix F: Open-ended Verbatims


Recorded Virtual Event: Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace: What’s Working?

Synthesis of Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace: What's Working, Workforce Monitor

State of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion October 2023 Forum Proceedings

State of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion October 2023 Forum Video

Media Coverage

Discrimination persists in workplace, workers say - Television interview with author Ronald Quincy and Briana Vannozzi, NJ Spotlight News

Rutgers report: Discrimination is still disturbing the workplace, NJ 101.5