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Have you had diversity training at work? How NJ measures up

The good news: Sensitivity to workplace discrimination, and the likelihood of workers reporting this type of behavior, are at high levels in the Garden State.

Office workers
Christopher Robbins, ThinkStock

The bad news: 1 in 5 New Jersey working adults “very often” or “occasionally” hear things at work that might be considered offensive to racial and ethnic minorities.

Those findings and more make up a survey on diversity from Lawrenceville-based Taft Communications in conjunction with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

In the State of Diversity poll, 68 percent of workers said they’ve had training at their current workplace that promotes the value of diversity and cultural awareness, compared to 53 percent last year.

“And it’s good to see that 86 percent of workers feel comfortable reporting discriminatory behavior to their employer,” Ted Deutsch, Taft president, told New Jersey 101.5.

But, Deutsch said, the survey uncovers a continued divide in how much diversity New Jerseyans experience at work versus away from work.

When at the office, 86 percent of New Jersey workers interact with someone of a different race or ethnicity on a daily basis. Outside of work, that figure drops to 64 percent, the survey shows.

“New Jersey is a true melting pot, with opportunities everywhere to connect with people whose culture and heritage are unlike one’s own,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of the FDU PublicMind poll, in a statement announcing the survey results. “Yet, this survey once again reveals that many still gravitate to people like themselves when unconstrained by the dynamics of the workplace.”

FDU conducted the survey of 612 randomly-selected working adults in New Jersey between January 25 and 29.

More than three-quarters of workers said their employer has a policy in place banning workplace discrimination. But about 20 percent cited hearing racially- and ethnically-offensive things on the job.

“It’s striking that non-white workers report hearing offensive things in the workplace at a much higher rate than whites. This year that was 28 percent versus 15 percent,” Deutsch explained.

Like last year, Muslims were the most targeted subject of offensive comments, the survey finds. Comments considered offensive to Jewish people were cited by 15 percent of workers this year, compared to 9 percent last year.

“It’s hard to say whether the political discourse contributed to any of the negative trend lines we saw this year, but it does beg the question,” Deutsch said.

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