Post-Pandemic Rise in the Adoption of DEI Initiatives But Hiring Is a Different Story — Incfile DEI Survey


Post-Pandemic Rise in the Adoption of DEI Initiatives But Hiring Is a Different Story — Incfile DEI Survey

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Incfile's 2022 survey of small business owners showed just how small business owners are incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into their business practices and even where they see the need to improve. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of our survey results.)

In the final results of our survey, learn how the pandemic brought on increased adoption of DEI initiatives and how it's playing out in hiring practices. 

While a majority of respondents (nearly 62 percent) said they weren’t sure the last time their business invested in DEI, a significant minority pointed toward the years of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021) as an impetus for instituting DEI policies and initiatives. 

As the pandemic further compounded a growing sense of social unrest and a wider call for social justice, it’s no surprise that many businesses took this time to reevaluate (or evaluate for the first time) their stance on DEI. 

small business DEI programs

Who’s in Charge of DEI in Small Businesses?

For solopreneurs and single-member businesses, the answer is obvious. But even in micro businesses, it’s not always apparent who’s making decisions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion — moreover, how those decisions are being communicated. We asked our Incfile business owners the who and the how behind their DEI policies and initiatives.

94% of Business Owners Are Also in Charge of DEI

It makes sense when you consider the large percentage of solopreneur and micro business respondents. But even among businesses with more employees, it seems the standard is that everything regarding DEI comes straight from the top. In this case, primarily the CEO and founder of the business. 

Who communicates DEI initiatives in small business

DEI May Be Part of Hiring, But Only for a Very Small Group

As mentioned previously, DEI initiatives have been integrated across business operations at a majority of small businesses. However, in most cases, as we see above, this is handled by the owner/founder of the business. Only a very small margin of respondents said that DEI is integrated into their hiring and HR process — just under 5 percent.

When It Comes to Hiring, Only Some Make Diversity a Priority

In fact, under a quarter of respondents said definitively that they dedicate more than 30 percent of roles to hiring diverse and minority candidates. 

diversity hiring in small businesses

There Are Still Many Conversations to Be Had Around DEI

While communication is open and encouraged at many small businesses, there is still room for improvement. In fact, while 64 percent (as mentioned previously) said they work to ensure employees feel safe while discussing topics of race and discrimination, the remainder do not.

DEI conversations at small businesses

DEI in Small Business: Progress Made, Progress Yet to Come

Overall, the results of our Q2 2022 survey with Incfile customers were encouraging and uplifting and showed us again how dedicated and determined these business owners are — not just in terms of running or growing their businesses but also in making the small business community and safe place of growth and opportunity for diverse members of the workforce.

Our Survey Methodology

We polled business owners and current Incfile customers from 41+ industries, including ecommerce, food and beverage, motion pictures, health care, finance and many more. A majority of respondents (63 percent) own micro businesses consisting of 1-9 employees. A significant subset (15.6 percent) reported themselves as solopreneurs or digital nomads. Just under 5 percent of respondents reported having more than 10 employees.


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