Diversity Efforts Shift After 9/11

September 16, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Even though the general corporate commitment to diversity training has remained strong, the high points of that internal education has shifted, a survey found.

Surveys in January and April 2002 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and FORTUNE found that the change in emphasis had taken place during the four months after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

SHRM said the purpose of the dual surveys was to measure the extent of 9/11-related workplace change

A SHRM press announcement said it was the few months after 9/11 when company diversity training tended to primarily focus on:

  • ethnicity
  • disability
  • race
  • age
  • religion
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • language skills

By April ethnicity had dropped a few notices. By then, corporate trainers were highlighting racial issues followed by gender, ethnicity, disability, age, language skills, religion and sexual orientation.

While the majority of respondents stated they saw no change in employee tolerance since surveyed in January, some interesting patterns showed up by the April poll, according to SHRM. For example, 20% of respondents indicated more tolerance (a little more and much more) for race and 19% for ethnicity. On the other hand, 17% indicated less tolerance (a little less and much less) for ethnicity.

At least some corporate executives appear to have noticed the trend. Some 22% and 21% of respondents, respectively, indicated there would be a spending hike on ethnicity and race-related diversity initiatives in the near future.

There were 361 respondents to the January survey, and of those respondents, 202 again responded to the April survey.