In the latest Inclusiveness Index released by The Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, the United States finds itself at the 77th position, showing a decline from its 72nd spot in both 2022 and 2021. This annual ranking assesses the degree of inclusion and protections experienced by marginalized groups across several social categories, including gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.
While the U.S. maintains a respectable 16th place in terms of LGBTQ acceptance and stands at 27th in religious inclusivity, its performance lags behind when it comes to race (118th place), disability (70th), and gender (108th). Notably, one significant factor contributing to this lower ranking is the nation’s high rate of incarceration, particularly among nonwhite individuals.
Stephen Menendian, the assistant director and director of research at OBI, emphasized how the U.S.’s inclusiveness ranking is impacted by the underrepresentation of women in elected offices. Currently, only 25 out of 100 U.S. senators are women, further highlighting gender disparities in political leadership.
In addition to disparities in elected positions, the study considers factors like violent attacks against specific groups, income inequality, and a country’s receptiveness to immigrants. The United States’ significant economic inequality across social groups also contributes to its lower ranking, especially when compared to more egalitarian countries in Scandinavia.
This year, the Inclusiveness Index introduced a new criterion by considering countries’ responses to climate change, such as greenhouse gas emission rates. Since its inception in 2016, the U.S.’s standing concerning disability, race, and gender inclusivity has fallen. This could signify either a lack of progress compared to other nations or a concerning regression in inclusivity within the United States.
Regionally, Hawaii, Maryland, and Vermont emerged as the top three most inclusive states, while Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama ranked lowest in inclusiveness. Notably, despite recent controversies over LGBTQ protections and gender-affirming care, Florida surprisingly ranked 16th in the country for inclusiveness, just above New York and Oregon at 17th and 20th, respectively.
At the global level, the lowest inclusiveness rankings were attributed to Iran, followed by Yemen and the Comoros Islands.
The hope of researchers behind the index is that individuals residing in regions with lower inclusivity and equity can utilize this data to advocate for positive changes in their communities.