Half of Black workers are considering quitting, new survey finds. Here’s how to keep them happy

February 24, 2023, 6:52 PM UTC
Stressed black businesswoman working on a laptop in an office alone.
Delmaine Donson—Getty Images

Happy Friday.

We’re winding down our Black History Month coverage with mixed news for anyone seeking to retain Black talent.

According to a new report from the job site Indeed, 49% of surveyed Black workers in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their jobs and considering leaving.

“The top three reasons Black employees are looking to move are because of unfair compensation, lack of career advancement, and a lack of support by management,” Charlotte Jones, Indeed’s senior manager of talent attraction, told me by email. “These are three basic factors a company can 100% control.”

The bottom line is if your Black talent doesn’t see an equitable path forward, they won’t stick around.

The survey tapped 615 Black full- or part-time employees, with an average age of 35. The majority worked for mid-sized to large companies in associate or managerial roles.

While 73% of respondents agree that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) training is a good way to shape workplace expectations and behaviors, only 47% believe these efforts truly reflect their employer’s core values. Worse, many don’t feel the DEIB work in their firms reflects their own ideas around inclusion: Some 78% of respondents identify pay transparency as a vital signpost of equity, and 60% are still looking for a diverse leadership team.

And there is plenty of toxicity floating around:

– 45% say they experienced discrimination during a job interview
– 54% say they feel they’re expected to educate others on DEIB, and 42% say this burden contributed to their current level of burnout
– 30% don’t feel supported or valued by management
– 43% report microaggressions from management or peers

Black workers planning on leaving are looking carefully before they leap. About 58% of respondents skipped applying to an appealing job because the target company did not appear inclusive and diverse.

All that said, the solutions inclusion-minded leaders seek are within easy reach. 

Listen to your Black talent, says Jones. They will specifically tell what they value in development, retention, benefits, and company culture. And then, turn your leaders into culture change agents. After all, quiet quitting is still very much a thing.

“One of the more surprising stats is that only 56% of companies have implemented DEIB initiatives,” she says. “Job seekers and current employees are still in control of their careers and are actively holding employers accountable.”

More news of system change agents below.

Ellen McGirt

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Ruth Umoh.

On point

Newly minted Cambridge professor takes on higher ed
Jason Arday, 37, a sociologist and scholar of race, inequality, and education, is set to become the youngest Black professor at the University of Cambridge. Arday was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age three and did not learn to speak until 11. He hopes his personal story—and expertise—will be a beacon to others. “My work focuses primarily on how we can open doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and truly democratise higher education,” he told the Guardian.
The Guardian

Understanding racial disparities in health care 
Aswita Tan-McGrory, director of the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, is leading ground-breaking work with various stakeholders on understanding how race, ethnicity, and language affect health care delivery in the U.S. She came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant who didn’t speak English. She starts this interview with an observation that could be applied to anyone seeking a more equitable system. “There is this myth in America, especially in immigrant communities, that if you work hard enough, you will rise to the top,” she begins. “This completely discounts the impact of early childhood trauma, social determinants of health, or structural and interpersonal racism on a person’s ability to be successful or healthy.”

Black moms are mobilizing in public schools
There’s been an enormous amount of (necessary) press coverage of white parents flooding school board meetings with curriculum challenges amid fears of critical race theory. The concerns and campaigns of Black mothers have yet to receive the same attention. Education reporter Bianca Quilantan aims to fix this, beginning with this report of four Black moms from four communities doing vital advocacy work. Washington, D.C.-based Maya Codagan, founder of the parent-run Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) group, has been at this since 2016. Most families in the D.C. school system are Black, but parent-advocates were typically white. “That meant that the balance of power was really off,” she told Politico. Good intentions aside, it’s “not the same as [Black and brown] voices actually being in the room to ask for what they want.”

Bringing underserved homebuyers into the market
Most new homebuyers are white, and access to down-payment money and affordable credit excludes Black, brown, immigrant, and lower-income potential homeowners from the most reliable wealth-building investment available to families. Nestment is a startup that lets friends and family members co-own properties. “Buying communal spaces together opens ownership to people who have otherwise been left out of the equation,” says cofounder Niles Lichtenstein, whose immigrant mother had to rent out rooms in his childhood home to make the rent. Nestment is now in public beta, with pre-seed funding co-led by Protofund and IDEA Fund Partners

Parting Words

“Angela Bassett did the thing. Viola Davis, my woman king!...Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius. And Jamie Lee, you are all of us!”

Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, dazzling and confusing the crowd with her rap tribute to the women in the audience during the opening of the BAFTA awards

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