Exploring Factors Influencing Employer Attitudes and Practices toward Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the New River Valley
Halvorson-Fried, Sarah Marie
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Although Congress enacted civil rights legislation in the 1960s to address racial inequities in income and employment, the executive branch and the courts have since retreated from efforts to pursue those policies aggressively. Meanwhile, anti-racism advocates, including the Montgomery County, Virginia based Dialogue on Race, have continued to promote strategies aimed at securing employment and income equity for all citizens. This study analyzed the social and economic costs of continued racial inequality in employment and income, and examined the ways in which local employers are addressing this challenge in the Blacksburg, Virginia region by exploring their self-reported rationales for action on the basis of economic efficiency or profit, moral obligation to fairness and justice, adherence to legal requirements, or leader influence. I addressed these concerns through population data analysis, key informant interviews, and a survey of major local employers. I found that New River Valley employers appear to be motivated by economic and moral reasons, as well as legal compliance. I conclude that activists should use this apparent openness to multiple rationales to work to help community leaders and local employers recognize racial equality as a moral imperative rather than as an instrumental claim incidental to its perceived utility.
- Masters Theses