The New Jersey workplace is one of the most diverse in the country. And it's also one of the best when it comes to responding appropriately to workplace discrimination and harassment.
Those are two of the key findings of the second annual New Jersey State of Diversity Study co-released Wednesday by Taft Communications, the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
Among the New Jerseyans surveyed, 86 percent said they interact daily with someone of a different race or ethnicity.
In addition, of the Jerseyans surveyed, 77 percent said their employer has policies against harassment, while 86 percent said they feel comfortable reporting discrimination.
The poll results are not all positive, however.
While 86 percent said they interact at work daily with someone of a different race or ethnicity, only 64 percent said they do so outside of work.
And while the number of people who heard something offensive at work “very often” or “occasionally” essentially stayed the same from 2015 to 2016 at 20 percent, the percentage of non-whites who heard things “very often” more than doubled in a year, from 6 percent to 14 percent.
“The State of Diversity poll is meant to shine a light on an issue of critical importance and to promote discussion in New Jersey about how we are living and working,” Taft President Ted Deutsch said in a release. “Many New Jerseyans work in a city or town they don’t live in, and the Taft-FDU survey results suggest that diversity is greater in the state as a whole than it is in individual communities.”
This concerned Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of the FDU PublicMind poll.
“New Jersey is a true melting pot, with opportunities everywhere to connect with people whose culture and heritage are unlike one’s own,” she said. “Yet, this survey once again reveals that many still gravitate to people like themselves when unconstrained by the dynamics of the workplace.”
The survey found an increase in training on diversity and cultural awareness, with 68 percent of respondents saying they had it in 2016. That’s a 15 percent jump from 2015.
Michele Siekerka, CEO and president of the NJBIA, said that is a step in the right direction.
“Being one of the most diverse states in the nation, it is good to see that New Jersey workplaces are creating environments sensitive to that diversity,” she said. “Employers know the importance of effective policies that make employees comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior. The survey shows these policies are having their intended effect.”
New Jersey has the nation’s 10th lowest share of whites in its population, at 56 percent, based on an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation of the Census Bureau’s March 2016 Current Population Survey. Nationwide, whites make up 61 percent of the population.