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Report: Majority of employees feel excluded at work

Written on Oct 6, 2023

A belonging disconnect is emerging in the workplace worldwide, with 41% of workers saying they feel the greatest sense of belonging at work second only to home — yet 75% report they’ve felt excluded at work, according to a report from EY. 

In addition, 56% of workers feel like they can’t share — or are reluctant to share — aspects of their identity at work, especially if they believe it could hold them back. Among LGBTQ+ workers, the percentage is even higher, with 77% feeling uncomfortable about sharing dimensions of themselves at work. 

“While it’s encouraging that workers continue to feel an increased sense of belonging at work, it’s clear that a disconnect has emerged with many workers globally, of all diversity dimensions, feeling excluded, actively self-editing or hiding certain dimensions of who they are at work,” Karyn Twaronite, EY global vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DE&I), said in a statement. 

“For leaders looking to bridge this gap to maximize engagement, wellbeing and productivity, and better enable their employees to feel free to be themselves, one-on-one check ins still matter most,” Twaronite said. 

In a survey of 5,000 workers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, India and Singapore, about 32% said checking in on how someone is doing — both at work and in their personal life — greatly contributed to building a sense of belonging. Among U.S. respondents, 39% agreed with this sentiment, which is similar to the previous surveys in 2018 (38%) and 2020 (37%). 

Flexibility also seems to help with belonging. Among workers who noted an impact on their sense of belonging due to hybrid work or economic volatility, the top two reasons for improvement were due to flexibility and encouragement to be open about their opinions, needs, preferences and personality. 

Beyond that, 45% said flexible work, such as autonomy with their hours and location, was the top motivator for instilling DEI initiatives in their own teams. 

These DEI initiatives continue to play a pivotal role in recruitment and talent acquisition, according to the report. About 74% of workers said their company’s prioritization of DEI influences their choice of where to work, and 63% said they would choose a company that prioritizes DEI over one that doesn’t — a stat that trends even higher among Gen Z and millennial workers. 

“Amidst today’s political and economic backdrop, DE&I remains a key workplace expectation across all generations and a competitive advantage, and at the same time, DE&I remains imperative for companies like ours to consistently build into their long-term growth strategy,” Twaronite said.

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