• A new Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey finds that across 27 countries, an average of 65% of all adults think that, in their country, someone’s race, ethnicity, or national origin influences their employment opportunities.
  • When considering their own experiences, more than one third say it has impacted their personal employment opportunities.
  • As Black History Month in the US draws to a close and after a tumultuous year where the pandemic has put inequality into the spotlight, awareness of the impacts of race and ethnicity on opportunities is high.

A new Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey finds that in 27 countries, an average of 65% of all adults think 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 conducted between 22 January and 5 February 2021 among more than 20,000 adults 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 in their country.

Image: Ipsos-World Economic Forum

When asked about their own experiences, 38% reported that race, ethnicity, or national origin has impacted education opportunities, 38% access to social services, and 35% access to housing.

For each type of opportunity, only one-third say their race, ethnicity, or national origin has not had any influence at all.

Image: Ipsos-World Economic Forum

As Black History Month in the US draws to a close, awareness of the impacts of race, ethnicity and national origin on opportunities in life is especially high. It comes after a tumultuous year where 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 the global discussion.

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

Image: Ipsos-World Economic Forum

About six in ten across Latin America, Spain, and South Africa, and about 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.

Only about one in three in Germany, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, one in four in China, and one in seven in Russia say so.

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

Image: Ipsos-World Economic Forum

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; and Russia, Poland, Sweden, and Great Britain show low perception and low experience.

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

Yet companies have been repeatedly reckoning with the gap between intentions and progress. There have only been 19 Black CEOs over the course of the 62 years of the Fortune 500’s existence, and currently, only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black.

To address these challenges and drive systemic and sustainable change towards racial justice, the World Economic Forum has created a global coalition to tackle racism in business, with a starting point on Black inclusion and addressing anti-Blackness.

Partnering for Racial Justice in Business aims to operationalize and coordinate commitments to eradicate racism in the workplace and set new global standards for racial equity in business. It also provides a platform for businesses to collectively advocate for inclusive policy change.