COQUAL Unveils New In-Depth Research Study on Strengthening Corporate Equity


A global nonprofit think tank, Coqual’s first report in a three-part series takes an in-depth look at the key processes that determine career outcomes for professionals: performance reviews, promotions and compensation. The report reveals practices that foster a sense of fairness among employees of different origins and offers concrete solutions for companies and their leaders to create fair workplaces for all.

“Fairness is vital to the success of a business and Coqual is committed to helping leaders break down standards, dismantle current systems and rebuild them from the ground up,” said Lanaya Irvin, Managing Director of Coqual. “Our study provides intersectional information, data and tools to navigate the process.”

“We are deeply committed to strengthening equity in the workforce and that is why we are proud to be the primary sponsor of Coqual’s research on this important topic. This report provides the essential information and tools necessary to create a fair working environment for all ”, mentioned Melonie Parker, Director of Diversity, Google.

In this study, HR practitioners cite promotions as the greatest area of ​​inequality within their organizations, but their greatest area of ​​interest remains limited to hiring. Hiring may seem like a quick fix, but without dedicated resources to promote and retain current employees from all walks of life, results rarely last.

“It’s time to really understand the reasons why the workplace isn’t working for everyone,” said Pooja Jain-Link, executive vice president of Coqual and principal researcher for the study. “Structural change is difficult and racial equity requires more than just a push; it requires a massive culture change. Businesses must allocate the necessary resources to change current power systems to make them fair. the lifecycle of talents. “

Performance reviews

Performance reviews are crucial to an individual’s career, but the Coqual study found that not everyone is evaluated fairly. More than one in five black men and more than one in six Latinx men say they have been assessed on different criteria than their peers. Asian professionals are the least likely of all groups to think their ratings reflect their contributions. Among Latinx professionals, Coqual finds that colorism plays a role in creating inequities in performance reviews – those with lighter skin are 57% more likely than those with darker skin to say that their ratings reflect their contributions to the business. Veterans do not always feel fairly evaluated at work: they are almost four times more likely than non-veterans to say they are evaluated on different criteria than others at their employment level and are almost 2 , 5 times more likely to say they are assessed more severely than their peers.

To understand company practices related to fairness in performance reviews, Coqual looked at practices that predict perceptions of fairness for employees of different races. While actionable feedback in performance reviews was a significant predictor of fairness for all groups, other predictors like 360 ​​performance reviews were strongest for Black and Latin employees and accountability for performance. conduct stood out for Asian and white employees.

“Given the systemic issues facing under-represented professionals, we need to know where to start,” said Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president of Coqual and head of secondary research for the study. “To create fairness, businesses need processes, policies and standards that allow room for individual differences. The data from this study is guiding companies to effectively redesign workplace processes to work better for everyone. ”


When it comes to promotions, Coqual found significant barriers to fairness for several outside groups. The study finds that about one in three black and Latin American men say their promotion time is longer than that of their peers. This sense of career dropout is more prevalent among professionals with disabilities (25%) than professionals without disabilities (16%) and veterans (34%) compared to non-veterans (16%).

To pay

Consistent with other research, Coqual finds that underrepresented professionals, especially women, report their pay is lower than their peers. Black women (29%), white women (22%) and Latin women (21%) were the most likely to report that their pay is lower than that of their peers.

Social class can also be a powerful determinant of earnings. Across all racial groups, Coqual finds that individuals from a lower social class are more likely than those from a higher social class to say that their pay is lower than that of their peers. The gap is particularly marked for black professionals: those from lower social classes are more than 1.5 times more likely than those from upper classes to report that their salary is lower than that of their peers. (30% from lower social backgrounds against 18% from higher social backgrounds).

In terms of remuneration, Coqual’s research finds a “paternity bonus”. Men with children are more likely than men without children to say that their manager is advocating for their pay increases. Women did not see such a difference based on parental status.

For white, Asian and black professionals, pay equity analyzes are the best predictors of fairness in the compensation process in their companies. For Latinx professionals, the provision of salary or salary ranges for different levels of employment is strongly linked to their perception of fairness in their company’s compensation process.

Principles of equity

Different practices are linked to perceptions of fairness for different groups of employees, but there are commonalities. To achieve fairness and justice in the workplace, especially for employees of different races, companies can build on five key principles:

  • Specificity: Rather than discussing equity as an abstract concept, use qualitative and quantitative data to identify specific issues to address and measure change.
  • Transparency: Executives and companies need to clarify processes such as compensation, performance reviews and promotions, and share associated metrics with employees. Even partial disclosure helps employees trust the processes.
  • Responsibility: Companies need to hold leaders accountable for the success of ED&I as a business priority.
  • Courage: Businesses need to recognize the historical and systemic factors that have inhibited equity and implement interventions at the institutional level, even in the face of vocal opposition.
  • Durability: Equity is not a one-size-fits-all deal. To build equity into the foundation of a business, companies must continually audit, evaluate, and modify.

Methodology: Research consists of an investigation; Insights In-Depth® sessions (a proprietary web-based tool used to host virtual voice-based discussion groups) with over 350 participants; and individual interviews with more than 40 people. The national survey was conducted online in April and May 2021 with 4,410 respondents (2,113 men, 2,268 women, 25 who identify as transgender, non-binary or some other identity, and 4 who do not. did not identify their gender; 2,547 identified as White, 557 as Black, 566 as Hispanic, 574 as Asian, 127 as two or more races, and 39 as another race or ethnicity). All of the survey respondents were over 21 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 effective 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, Google; Research Sponsors: AllianceBernstein; Boehringer Ingelheim United States; Company intel; Johnson & Johnson; L’Oreal United States; 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


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Paul N. Strickland

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