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Bias in the workplace today

Explore the impact of allyship, inclusion, and everyday behaviors

We surveyed 3,000 individuals working in large organizations about their experience in the workplace, their perceptions of prevalence and manifestation of bias, and whether they identified with the concept of being an ally.


The bias barrier

Our 2019 State of Inclusion survey takes a deep dive into workplace bias and its impact on employees and the overall organization. We asked respondents about their personal experiences at work and if they had encountered and/or witnessed bias. Whether on the basis of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or military status, more than 60 percent of respondents reported a presence of bias in their workplace.

While today’s workforce feels like they can be themselves at work and that their organization is inclusive, many report experiencing bias frequently, often in subtle and indirect ways. So, what can organizations do to continue to advance their inclusive efforts and impact the daily behaviors and experiences of their people?

Our research also identified that allies may be the missing link and can play a critical role in advancing inclusion in their organizations by speaking up when they spot bias. On the organizational level, we outline five ways to foster inclusion and lay out the next phase of building an inclusive workplace environment.

Read our 2019 State of Inclusion survey for a detailed account of our results.

Key findings

86% of respondents said that they could be themselves at work the majority of the time


  • 39% said they experience bias frequently - at least once a month
  • 83% categorize the bias(es) they have experienced and/or witnessed in the workplace as subtle and indirect, or microaggressions
  • 68% said that witnessing or experiencing bias had a negative impact on their productivity 

Fostering an inclusive culture can help to reduce bias that may emerge in daily interactions. Organizations have an opportunity to:

  • Empower their people – 92% of individuals said that they identify as an ally to others that are different from them in the workplace
  • Foster a culture that encourages courageous conversations
    • 73% of responses felt comfortable talking to others about bias in the workplace
    • 30% reported ignoring bias that they witnessed or experienced 
  • Provide training and education on what bias in the workplace may look like, even subtle bias, and the importance of having conversations to address it

2019 State of Inclusion Survey Results

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Five ways to foster inclusion

Building an inclusive culture can help to reduce bias that may emerge in daily interactions, so here are some things you can do to build an inclusive environment and inspire allies.

1. Showcase inclusive behaviors

In a previous study, Deloitte identified six inclusive leadership traits. These can empower people with actional steps on how they can personalize, identify, model and advance inclusion.

2. Define what allyship means in the context of the organization's values and goals.

3. Promote allyship to encourage curiosity about and awareness of others

4. Showcase intersectionality

5. Recognize that allyship is not simply intention

It is also a part of everyday behaviors. When allies perceive subtle or indirect bias against others, they can host courageous conversations or consider other ways to address bias.

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