Annual diversity survey finds multicultural interactions on the rise in N.J.

The third annual New Jersey State of Diversity Survey has some good news for the state: Interactions between people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in the state are increasing — even among the older age groups.

The annual survey by Taft Communications, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and Fairleigh Dickinson University focuses on interactions in the workplace.

The poll is timely, considering the divisive rhetoric swirling in the nation and increasing focus on workplace training on diversity.

“It has been a year of considerable change in society,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll and professor of political science at the college. “News about tolerance and diversity is increasingly common, and measuring attitudes and behavior regarding workplace and societal interactions provides benefits to us all. With these results, we now have three years of trend data that illuminate an often-overlooked dimension of workplace dynamics.”

Michele Siekerka, NJBIA CEO and president, touted New Jersey’s diversity.

“Being one of the most diverse states in the nation, it is heartening to see that New Jersey workplaces are creating environments that are 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 one of their intended effects.”

Among 619 surveyed New Jerseyans, 88 percent said they interact at work daily with someone of a different race or ethnicity, compared with 86 percent last year and 83 percent in 2016, according to a statement from Taft.

This year, a new question focused on a point diversity advocates often tout: “Have you ever worked on a project with others that, in your opinion, had better or improved results than it would otherwise have because members of the team came from diverse backgrounds?”

The response:

  • 61 percent of females versus 55 percent of males said “yes”;
  • 68 percent of nonwhites versus 53 percent of whites said “yes”;
  • 64 percent of college-educated versus 47 percent of high school-educated said “yes”;
  • 61 percent of 18-34-year-olds versus 50 percent of 60+-year-olds said “yes”;
  • 66 percent of Democrats versus 43 percent of Republicans said “yes.”

Another increase was seen in the number of individuals who said they interact daily with someone of a different race or ethnicity outside the workplace. That increased to 71 percent, from 64 percent last year.

The biggest increases in responses were from women, white individuals and those ages 35 to 59. The takeaway is that the living situations for these groups have been changing dramatically to fit their work.

“Taft is proud to present our third annual diversity poll as a way to keep a spotlight on diversity trends in the places where we work and live,” said Taft President Ted Deutsch. “The continued increases in workplace tolerance and diverse interactions outside of the workplace are certainly promising trends for the state of diversity in New Jersey.”

To view the complete survey results, click here.