Civil Rights and MLK Day

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75% of Americans say MLK day (Jan. 18) is an essential holiday for remembering the importance of U.S. civil rights, according to a recent survey by Reputation Leaders. Most see Martin Luther KingJr.’s legacy as not just a great speech but also a continuing commitment to civil rights.

A survey of 1,007 U.S. adults nationally found that 80% of Americans agree that civil rights are as important in 2021 as at any time in the last 30 years, evidenced by 3 in ten (29%) reporting they were personally and negatively affected by discrimination in 2020. Over half (53%) of those cited racial discrimination.


Two-thirds of Americans surveyed said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that America still needs to address education, job, and health access inequalities faced by minorities.

More Americans thought that the workplace via HR was the right place to create and pursue racial justice than other options such as activism, politics, or the judicial system.

For employers, their commitment to diversity will impact the talent they can attract and retain in 2021. 45% of workers say this commitment would significantly impact or even be non-negotiable in deciding to work for a new employer. Employees with a workplace culture that is empowering and accepting feel most proud to work for their employers.

85% of workers were proud to work for employers who had acted to address racism in their organization. 28% of workers did not think there was any racism in their organization.

In 2021, half of American workers look to their employers to act on race and minority equality issues. Unfortunately, 45% of American workers do not expect their employer to make significant progress on diversity and inclusion issues in 2021. This affects how proud they are to be employed there.

79% of those who think their employer will make significant progress on diversity and inclusion are proud to be employed there compared with 53% who are proud of their workplace but expect no D&I action.


Using the ThoughtBite™ framework, Reputation Leaders ran a U.S. national online study from January 6-8, 2021, to explore American opinions on racism and discrimination. Interviews were conducted among 1,007 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, matching the U.S. demographic profile by age, gender, and region.

Full results are downloadable from

For more information on DE&I, Purpose, and Reputation, contact

Reputation Leaders is a thought leadership and reputation consultancy that causes people to think differently about your brand. We specialize in thought leadership studies that help our clients lead on essential issues, build reputation, and earn media headlines.

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