The Misperception of Organizational Racial Progress Toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Despite America’s checkered racial history, people generally believe the nation has made steady, incremental progress toward achieving racial equality. In this paper, we investigate whether this American racial progress narrative will extend to how the workforce views the effectiveness of organizational efforts surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Across four studies (N = 2,057), we test whether American workers overestimate organizational racial progress across the domains of benefits, compensation, and executive representation and believe that progress will naturally unfold over time (Studies 1-4). We also examine whether these misperceptions surrounding organizational progress drive misunderstandings regarding the relative ineffectiveness of common organizational diversity policies (Studies 2-4). Overall, we find evidence that American workers largely overestimate organizational racial progress, believe that organizational progress will naturally improve over time, and that these misperceptions of organizational racial progress may drive beliefs in the effectiveness of symbolic DEI policies.