Two in five workers have seen lasting change in their workplace since the murder of George Floyd

But two years on from the killing that launched a wave of protest across the globe, research shows firms still have progress to make addressing diversity and inclusion

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Two fifths of workers have seen a lasting change in their workplace in the two years since the murder of George Floyd, a report has found.

The poll of 1,652 employees, conducted by Ipsos between April and May, found that 41 per cent noticed a change in the way their company handled race-related matters since April 2020.

This increased to six in 10 (57 per cent) among respondents from an ethnic minority background.

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However, the research still found that 43 per cent of respondents believed their company had initially become more willing to take action on race related matters, but that these commitments didn’t last.

The research comes two years after the killing of Floyd, a black man, by a police officer in Minneapolis. The video of the incident, which happened in May 2020, was caught on camera by by-standers and went viral, kick-started a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across America and the rest of the world.

However, Trinh Tu, managing director of public affairs at Ispos, said that while Floyd’s murder made some employers to look at ways to improve race relations in their own organisation, this latest data “shows that this willigness has, in the main, not been translated into sustained and impactful actions for workers”.

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“Many workers, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds, continue to experience microaggressions at work, highlighting that employers still have some way to go to create diverse and inclusive workplaces,” Tu said.

The research found less than half of respondents (45 per cent) saw their leaders and managers as racially diverse, and of these just 47 per cent said their company was taking steps to address this.

Just 30 per cent felt their workplaces had made positive strides across areas such as ethnic diversity in the workplace and feeling more comfortable discussing race at work.

The poll also found that respondents from a ethnic minority background were still experiencing microaggressions at work, including 20 per cent who have experienced a colleague making a racially insensitive statement (compared to just 9 per cent of white workers).

Over a third (39 per cent) of people from an ethnic minority background said they experienced colleagues using racially offensive language or heard it happening to others, while a similar percentage (41 per cent) said they experienced or heard about others making racially insensitive statements.

Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO of INvolve, said the Ipsos research shows there was still work to be done to drive DEI in the workplace. “Despite the need for change signalled by the Black Lives Matter upsurge of 2020 it is vital to recognise that businesses have yet to fully answer what was a call to action for long-term, systemic change,” he said. 

Although it is promising to see that there has been some change and increased empathy in the handling of race related issues in the workplace, it cannot be overlooked that a significant proportion of employees feel that this improvement was temporary,” he added.

Sandhu urged business leaders and managers to be more aware of individual efforts to foster diversity and inclusivity in organisations as well as being conscious of any gaps in organisational culture. “There are still many conversations around Black inclusion and broader race inclusion that need to take place,” he said.