Majority of Americans Support Diversity, New Equality Agenda, Survey Finds

A majority of Americans support an equity agenda designed to reduce racial and ethnic inequality and believe that increased diversity will lead to economic growth, a national survey conducted by the Center for American Progress and PolicyLink finds.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the report, Building an All-In Nation: A View From the American Public (67 pages, PDF), found that 69 percent of the nearly three thousand people surveyed agreed that "a bigger, more diverse workforce will lead to more economic growth" and that "diverse workplaces and schools will help make American businesses more innovative and competitive." The survey also found that 71 percent of all respondents (and 63 percent of whites) expressed support for "new steps to reduce racial and ethnic inequality in America through investments in areas such as education, job training, and infrastructure improvement," compared with 27 percent who were opposed. Specific steps toward that goal include allocating "significantly more public funds to help close [the] gap in college graduation rates," which was supported by 61 percent of all respondents (and 53 percent of whites).

At the same time, the survey found that Americans overestimate current and future levels of diversity. The respondents' median estimate for the percentage of people of color in the U.S. population today, and in 2050, for example, were 49 percent and 62 percent, well above the Census Bureau's estimates of 37 percent 53 percent. An openness-to-diversity index based on responses to statements about concerns and opportunities arising from increased diversity also showed that positive sentiments about opportunities from rising diversity tended to outweigh negative concerns.

"This poll clearly shows that Americans not only understand the long-term effects of inequality given our demographic changes but also embrace diversity as an asset that will bring innovation and make us more competitive," said Vanessa C�rdenas, vice president for Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress. "Contrary to what you hear in the news, Americans clearly support taking proactive steps to close disparities so that our entire economy benefits. And they believe in something that many in Congress don't seem to grasp: that investing in our future today will benefit all Americans down the road."