Jan 11, 2024 - Business

Chart: Words that divide

Share who say that select words are divisive, by party
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

A majority of Americans support the notion of diversity in the workplace, but they don't love how it's branded.

By the numbers: According to a recent survey from The Harris Poll, roughly half of Republican voters view the term "DEI" as divisive, while only 27% of Democrats agree.

  • A majority of Republicans polled also believe terms like "BIPOC," "LatinX" and "ESG" create more division.

The intrigue: Voters from across the aisle find terms like "cancel culture," "woke" and "underrepresented" to be alienating.

Zoom in: This linguistic disconnect also transcends generations, according to the Harris Poll.

  • 75% of baby boomers view the term "BIPOC" as divisive, followed by terms like "underrepresented" (70%) and "Latinx" (67%).
  • Meanwhile, Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to find "conservative" (65%), "patriotic" (53%) and "progress" (31%) to be the most divisive terms.

What they're saying: "DEI, like many of these acronyms and phrases, have devolved into ideological dog whistles. Americans hear and sort them like voters, instead of consumers. They're either red or blue," says John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.

The bottom line: Words matter.

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