Us Workers With Disabilities Most Likely to Report Their Organization Does Not Value Diversity and Inclusion

A LifeWorks Mental Health Index special report on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging finds a discrepancy between workers’ perceptions and lived experiences

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total well-being solutions supported by TELUS Health, released its monthly Mental Health Index revealing that, while 75 percent of US workers report their organization values diversity, people with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to report their organization does not value diversity. The report shows that people in diverse groups often feel marginalized at work, which affects their mental health. Responses vary across diverse groups, including women, ethnic and racial minorities, LGBTQ2+, and people with disabilities.

The monthly Mental Health Index found that American workers have an increasingly unfavorable mental health score

  • The Mental Health Index score for November 2022 is 68.9 points out of 100 (the benchmark prior to 2020). This score sits one point lower than October, more than two points below November 2021, and 2.9 points off the Index’s 32-month peak in August 2021.
  • The 75 percent of individuals who feel their organization values diversity score significantly higher (71.1) than others (63.1 for people who are unsure and 59.9 for people who believe their organization does not value diversity).

Americans with disabilities report the most significant barriers. Americans with disabilities are less likely to report that they can be themselves at work, that their ideas are valued, that they are cared about and that promotions are merit-based. Americans with disabilities are also more likely to experience negative comments from their manager and co-workers.

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People with disabilities in the US are twice as likely as people without disabilities to indicate they cannot be themselves at work – more than any other group

  • Workers who feel they can be themselves at work (83%) have the most favorable mental health score (71.8) compared to those who do not
  • The mental health score of Americans who are unsure if they can be themselves at work are at least 13 points below the national average (68.9)
  • LGBTQ2+ Americans and visible minorities are 50 percent more likely to indicate that they cannot be themselves at work.

Workers with disabilities are nearly 70 percent more likely than individuals without disabilities to report their ideas are not valued at work (followed by women at 40 percent)

  • People who do not feel their ideas are valued at work have a mental health score 14 points below the average.

Americans with disabilities are nearly three times more likely than individuals without disabilities to experience negative comments from their managers and co-workers.

  • More than three-quarters of workers do not experience negative comments from their manager (78 percent) and co-workers (80 percent), both of which have a mental health score of 72.4
  • Meanwhile, people who receive negative comments from managers and co-workers score 14 and 15 points below the national average respectively
  • Aside from people with disabilities, visible minorities and LGBTQ2+ Americans are more than twice as likely to experience negative comments from their managers and co-workers compared to individuals who do not identify as such.

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Comments from TELUS Health Chief Operating Officer, Michael Dingle
“While it is positive to see that many Americans feel diversity is important to their organization, we are seeing a concerning disconnect between perception and reality for individuals who are part of marginalized groups. It is critically important for American organizations to commit to continuously listening, learning and embracing different perspectives – to cultivate a culture where everyone belongs, feels valued and knows they can thrive in a safe and equitable environment. Not doing so poses significant risks to employee well-being, retention and business results.”

Comments from LifeWorks Global Leader and Senior Vice President, Research and Total Well-being, Paula Allen
“Taking a closer look to re-evaluate how diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is experienced by diverse groups day-to-day can uncover opportunities for improvement and a healthier work environment. What do the daily interactions look like between managers and employees? How can all voices be heard and valued? Are there safe spaces for employees to share concerns? A workplace can not be mentally healthy if there are vastly different experiences by some.”

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