Coqual research study examines how workplace interactions between managers and colleagues contribute to inequality and injustice


New research from Coqual, a global nonprofit think tank, examines the role managers and colleagues play in making fairness in the workplace. The study reveals that many employees, especially members of marginalized groups, face unfair treatment because of their identity. Relationships in the workplace impact inclusion and contribute to inequalities in access to career opportunities and resources for professionals from diverse backgrounds.

“Our equity research supports the critical role institutions play in embedding and strengthening inclusive behaviors for everyone within the organization,” said Lanaya Irvin, Managing Director of Coqual. “We hope this data and the accompanying recommendations for colleagues and managers will help disrupt inequalities and serve as a roadmap for companies to create achievable change.”

“Equity is created at an organizational and individual level, so we looked at both,” said Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president of Coqual. “Individuals have the power to shape the daily experiences of others at work. We often leave a leader or a team, not a company, on the basis of unfair treatment.”

Coqual study finds that almost one in three black professionals feel they are being treated unfairly because of their race, one in five women feel they are being treated unfairly because of their gender and more one in six LGBTQ professionals feel they are being treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation. Examining the intersection of race and sexual orientation, the study finds surprising data that black LGBTQ professionals (51%) are almost twice as likely as their non-LGBTQ black peers (26%) to describe the culture of their company as inclusive.

Black and Latin professionals are both aware of the negative stereotypes they face in the workplace, which makes mistakes even more worrying. The study finds that 29% of black professionals and 22% of Latinx professionals worry about how their mistakes might reflect on others like them, compared to 13% of white professionals.

Managers influence the career experiences of individuals and play an important role in the work assignments, success and career paths of their team members. The study finds inequalities in work assignments, with white men most likely to think their assignments are appropriate for their level, while less than half of non-white men and black women say the same. When it comes to favoritism, research shows that there is a difference in the data by race / ethnicity. Nearly four in five white men (78%) say their manager advocates for top performers regardless of race or gender, according to the study, but black men are nearly 2.5 times more likely and Latinx men are twice as likely as white males to say their manager treats employees differently based on their appreciation. Darker-skinned professionals are twice as likely as their lighter-skinned peers to say the same thing.

Micromanagement is another challenge for black professionals and Latinx men. Coqual finds that 32% of black men, 28% of black women, and 26% of Latinx men, versus 17% of white men say their manager manages with excessive control or attention to detail.

The study reveals a contradictory story for veterans who have a more complicated relationship with their managers; they benefit from in-depth support but face certain exclusions. Compared to 81% of civilians, only 69% of veterans say their manager respects them and are almost twice as likely as civilians to say their manager treats employees differently based on their appreciation. Despite the stigma many veterans face in the workplace, they are more likely to say their managers question their career goals and give them the opportunity to interact with senior leaders.

Parenthood has an impact on the work experience of professionals by gender. At work, fatherhood carries cachet and benefits. Although research shows that 41% of women with children are the sole or main breadwinner in their families, Coqual heard in interviews that men with children are more often seen as an element of leadership and more worthy of assignment. coveted. Fathers are also more likely than mothers to say that their managers listen to their ideas and give them the opportunity to show their skills to senior leaders.

Coqual finds that his colleagues can promote perceptions of fairness towards one another by adopting inclusive behaviors of three types:

  • Collaborate – inclusive colleagues appreciate your contributions, show you respect and support you in difficult work situations
  • Advance – inclusive colleagues look for ways to help your career by sharing opportunities and connections
  • Express yourself – inclusive colleagues challenge an exclusive and inequitable status quo and need to break prejudices

Coqual’s research reveals that the inclusive behaviors of managers are strongly and positively correlated with the inclusive behaviors of colleagues. Inclusiveness is contagious, spreading from managers to peers. This research study reveals that having a more inclusive manager is associated with an 18% increase in perceptions of workplace fairness and that having more inclusive colleagues is associated with a 21% increase in perceptions of workplace fairness. . Coqual’s first report in the Equity series finds that perceptions of fairness often affect important business outcomes, such as an employee’s confidence in their company and their intention to stay.

In addition, the report presents the following institutional framework for businesses to advance inclusion and advance equity and equity:

  • Values– Businesses need to embed inclusion in their mission, vision and values, and identify what stands in the way of inclusion. When an employer values ​​fairness, employees will feel empowered to break down prejudices and be more inclusive.
  • Responsibility– Inclusive behavior should be an expectation for every job. Businesses must implement deliberate policies and processes to promote accountability for inclusiveness. Employees who miss their mark should not be promoted to managerial positions.
  • Education– Colleagues need to know what inclusion looks like for peers, regardless of their background. Inclusion training must be offered at all levels and managers must know what is expected of them as leaders, have the appropriate resources to do so, and be held accountable for their inclusive or non-inclusive behaviors. .

Methodology: Research consists of an investigation; In-depth insights® sessions (a proprietary web-based tool used to organize virtual discussion groups facilitated by voice) with more than 300 employees; and individual interviews with more than 40 people. The national survey was conducted online in April and May 2021 among 4,410 respondents (2,113 men; 2,268 women; 25 who identify as transgender, non-binary, or some other identity; and four who did not identify their gender; 2,547 identify as white, 557 as Blacks, 566 as Hispanics, 574 as Asians, 127 as two or more races, and 39 as another race or ethnicity). All of the survey respondents were at least 21 years old and working full-time in white-collar occupations, with at least a bachelor’s degree. The data has been weighted to be representative of the U.S. population on key demographics (age, sex, education, race / ethnicity, and census division). The basis used for the statistical tests was the actual basis. Unless otherwise indicated, the data we reference comes from our national survey.

This survey was carried out by NORC in University of Chicago under the auspices of Coqual, a non-profit research organization. NORC was responsible for data collection, while Coqual performed the analysis. In graphs, percentages may not always add up to 100 due to computer rounding or the acceptance of multiple responses from respondents. Throughout this report, “Latinx” refers to those who identify as being of Latino or Hispanic descent.

Main sponsor, Johnson & Johnson; Research Sponsors: AllianceBernstein; Google; Company intel; Pfizer; The Walt Disney Company; and white and case

Research advisers: Dr. Ifedapo Adeleye, Professor of Human Resource Management Practices, Georgetown University; Dr. Alexandra kalev, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Kellie McElhaney, professor and founding director, Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL), Haas School work, University of California, Berkeley.

About Coqual: Coqual (formerly the Center for Talent Innovation) is a global nonprofit think tank dedicated to helping leaders design diverse, fair and inclusive workplaces where everyone belongs. Founded in 2004, Coqual provides companies with in-depth research, thought leadership, and actionable data-driven solutions to address prejudices and barriers to inclusion of under-represented populations in the workplace. Coqual’s cutting-edge research and advisory services focus on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status and LGBTQ identities, as well as the intersections between these groups. For more information, visit


Related links


Paul N. Strickland