Key Initiative

Research: National Study of Workplace Equity


A research team from the Boston College of Social Work and the world’s largest HR association, Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) conducted the National Study of Workforce Equity. Findings were reported in December 2022. The study survey used a nationally representative of 1,062 workplaces in the United States.

The following definition was used for “equity at the workplace”: the fairness of organizational systems and the absence of systematic and persistent disparities in the opportunities and resources available to employees, regardless of their demographic and social identities.

Study findings included:

  • Equity is strongest in recruitment and hiring, compensation and benefits, and orientation and onboarding.
  • Equity is weakest in resources and supports, job structures, and supervision and mentoring.
  • Many organizations struggle to ensure workers experience equity throughout their employment.
  • 64 percent of organizations say that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is important or very important, yet 62 percent devote little to no resources to promoting the fair treatment and full participation of all people in their workforce.
  • Equity is inconsistently implemented across 10 discrete employment systems: 10 different employment systems: (1) job structures; (2) recruitment and hiring, (3) compensation and benefits, (4) orientation and onboarding, (5) supervision and mentoring, (6) training and career development, (7) performance assessment and feedback, (8) employee resources and supports, (9) promotions, and (10) separations.
  • At least one-quarter of organizations report that their employees experience racial, gender, or age-related bias at work.
  • Specifically, 28 percent reported their employees had experienced gender bias in the past two years; 27 percent reported their employees have experienced racial bias in the past two years; and 26 percent reported their employees have experienced age-related bias in the past two years.

The study identifies “levers of change” that employers can use to create more equity throughout the employment cycle:

  • Policies
  • Practices
  • Planning and evaluation
  • Roles and accountabilities
  • Culture, climate, and communication.

The authors recommend four steps that organizations can take to improve equity throughout employment systems and employee experiences:  (1) create a climate of inclusion; (2) communicate fairly; (3) conduct equity audits; and (4) assign roles and accountabilities.

Lead Authors


Bradley, S.; Pitt-Catsouphes, M.; & Christensen, K. (2022, December). The National Study of Workplace Equity. Boston College School of Social Work; & Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).



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