There are some striking research findings regarding the experiences that many people of color have in their workplaces. Though one should be careful not to make broad generalizations as a result of these findings, it is important to understand that many people of color have had negative experiences in their past or current workplaces as a result of their race or ethnicity. These experiences can influence how some individuals perceive workplaces in general.

In 2002, the Center for Creative Leadership completed a survey of 330 individuals' perceptions of their workplace. Approximately half of the respondents were white and approximately one-third of respondents were African American. The remaining respondents came from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. The survey findings uncovered the following differences in how African Americans and whites perceive the effects of racial issues on their workplaces:

More than 63 percent of African Americans said that race is a moderate to great source of tension in their workplace. Only 26 percent of whites believed that race was a moderate to great source of tension in their workplace.

Almost twice as many African American respondents as white respondents said that dealing with race-related issues at work was painful or difficult.

Sixty-seven percent of African Americans rated their workplaces as being moderately to very sensitive to racial diversity issues while 82 percent of whites felt that their workplaces were moderately to very sensitive to racial diversity issues. (Center for Creative Leadership, "Leading in Black and White Poll Results." November, 2002 e-Newsletter.)

Not every person of color who works at an organization experiences the same issues. However, the fact that some studies about the experiences of people of color in the workplace found these trends is a good reason to look seriously not only at how an organization recruits staff of color but also how it retains staff of color.


Complete Developing an Action Plan for Personnel.


Benefits of Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Staff 

Costs of Unsuccessful Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Staff 

Setting Goals for Staff Composition 

Position Descriptions/Job Qualifications 

Announcing and Advertising Personnel Openings 

Interviewing and Selecting Candidates 

Retaining Personnel of Color 

Performance Reviews 

Professional Development 

Exit Interview Process  

Employment Policies


Strategies and Accomplishments of Organizations Doing Inclusiveness Work 

New Hire Orientation: How Denver Center for Crime Victims (DCCV) Adapted Their Previous Orientation to Include Inclusiveness

The Trustees of Reservations (an environmental group) grapples earnestly with racial and ethnic inclusion, as reported in an article in the September-October 2011 edition of Audubon Magazine.


Visit Related Links and search under "Staff Diversity" for more on this topic.

Visit Discussion Forum Notes: September 8, 2011: Hiring from Diverse Communities.

Katherine Pease ( is the primary author of the Inclusiveness At Work workbook and a consultant providing specialized services to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. She is also author of "Job Satisfaction and Perceptions of Race-Related Discrimination and Conflict in Nonprofit Organizations."