Over the past 100 years, the U.S. workforce has changed dramatically. While initially male-dominated as women took on more “traditional” roles within the home, the onset of World War II shifted this dynamic. Women began to file into the workplace and subsequently discovered that they were met with challenges in fair treatment and opportunities. As a result, new policies began arising to ensure that workplace rules and standards would be fair to everyone. These executive orders, actions, and amendments to existing policies ignited a wave extending to a wider range of marginalized groups based on race, ethnicity, disabilities, gender and sexual identity, and more.
People in these groups have always faced great difficulties in the workplace, including racism, a lack of needed accommodations for physical/mental conditions, sexual harassment, lower wages, and barriers to better opportunities. Equitable and inclusive policies that encourage diversity training, hiring initiatives to diversify employees, and retention/promotion efforts among marginalized employees allow workers a chance to thrive and feel safe and respected among their colleagues. A diverse workplace also matters to job seekers, with 76% of them considering it as an important factor during their job search, according to Glassdoor. These changes have come with various levels of pushback and challenges of their own, many of which people are still trying to mitigate to this day.
Gender and racial pay gaps still exist. Black workers make 76 cents for every dollar white workers make, according to the Department of Labor. This gap is also consistent between men and women, with the latter earning 76 cents for every dollar men make. And, Hispanic/Latino workers make 73 cents for every dollar white workers make. While this pay gap still exists—and the push to close it continues—it would be even wider without this history of policies.
From groundbreaking cases like the Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson case of 1986 to Texaco’s Black employees successfully suing the company for discriminatory practices, workers in the U.S. continue to fight for equitable treatment throughout the job-seeking and employment process. Without pivotal action and the push for companies and government sectors to be transparent, the U.S. workforce would not be as diverse and robust as it is today.
Kazoo researched information from a plethora of sources to learn about the history of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in the workplace. Sources include government websites (such as those for the Department of Labor and Congress) and news organizations (such as the San Francisco Examiner and CNN). Here is a look at the history of diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace.