ISSN 2330-717X

65% Of Adults Think Race, Ethnicity Or National Origin Affects Job Opportunities


A recent Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey has found that 65% of all adults believe that, in their country, someone’s race, ethnicity, or national origin influences their employment opportunities. When considering their own race, ethnicity, or national origin, more than one-third say it has impacted their personal employment opportunities.

The online survey was conducted between 22 January and 5 February 2021, among more than 20,000 adults in 27 countries. It also reveals that 60% of adults think that someone’s race, ethnicity, or national origin plays a role in education opportunities, access to housing, and access to social services.

As Black History Month in the United States draws to a close, awareness of the impacts of race, ethnicity and national origin on opportunities in life is exceptionally high. It follows a tumultuous year when the pandemic put inequality into the spotlight, and events in the US sparked international protests as long-simmering, systemic racial inequities came to the forefront.

Of those surveyed, 46% say the events of the past year have increased differences in opportunities as well as access to housing, education, employment and/or social services in their country. In comparison, 43% say the events have had no impact on differences and 12% say they have decreased differences.

About 60% of respondents in Latin America, Spain and South Africa, and nearly half in France, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, Sweden, Belgium and the US say recent events have increased race, ethnicity, or national origin-based differences in opportunities in their country, compared to only about one in three in Germany, Poland and Saudi Arabia, one in four in China, and one in seven in Russia.

Perceptions versus the reported personal experience of inequality also vary significantly in countries. Compared with the 27-country average for all four types of opportunities measured, several countries stand out.

  • South Africa and India show high perception and high personal experience
  • Japan, Belgium and France show high perception and low personal experience
  • Malaysia shows low perception and high experience
  • Russia, Poland, Sweden and Great Britain show low perception and low experience

The employment opportunity gap and the private sector’s role in achieving a more equitable society is something businesses are increasingly keen to address. In 2020, between George Floyd’s death in May and the end of October, about one-third of Fortune 1000 companies made a public statement on, or a commitment to, racial equity. The private sector pledged a total of $66 billion towards racial justice initiative

Yet, companies have repeatedly been reckoning with the gap between intentions and progress. There have been only 15 Black CEOs over the 62 years of Fortune 500’s existence. Currently, only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are black.

About the study

These are the results of a 27-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Between 22 January and 5 February 2021, Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,020 adults aged 18-74 in the US, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa and Turkey, and aged 16-74 in 22 other countries.

The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the US, and 500 individuals in Argentina, Chile, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.

The samples in Brazil, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population.

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