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Race in the Workplace: The Frontline Experience

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  • While there are opportunities at times for advancement, my peers often doubt me and my skill set is judged, even though I share the same qualifications as everyone else.

    Interviewed employee

    Frontline workers represent the largest and most diverse part of the U.S. workforce. The 2022 Race in the Workplace report examines how frontline employees of color face specific challenges related to opportunities for advancement.

    Despite supporting and serving our communities, frontline workers are left out of critical training programs and racial equity, diversity and initiative (REDI) initiatives that could create opportunities to grow in their fields and build wealth.

    Companies need to provide more support to frontline workers to enable their career advancement. This includes having organizations reassess their traditional approach to the front line. Organizations must directly address three myths:

    • Frontline workers are free to move up the corporate ladder.
      • Reality: More than 70 percent of frontline workers want to be promoted within their companies, but only 4 percent make the leap to corporate.
    • Frontline workers are not qualified for higher-level roles.
      • Reality: 70 percent of job progressions to Gateways hinge on transferable interpersonal skills, which are best learned through experience.
    • High rates of turnover are just the way it goes on the front line.
      • Reality: Companies have a responsibility to create a better employee experience.

    Hear from Jonathan Njus, director of Family Economic Security and team lead for the Expanding Equity program at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on his reflections on the report here.

    Read the Full Report