The Vision Council Releases 2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey Report

Diversity - The Optical Journal

The Vision Council today releases the 2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey Report. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the custom survey The Vision Council fielded to the vision care community in November 2020. The confidential survey, developed in partnership with Nonprofit HR, one of the leading full-service human resources firms focused exclusively on the nonprofit sector with expertise in DEI consulting, was designed to benchmark the vision care leadership landscape in order to help organizations within the industry identify opportunities they have to promote diversity, cultivate talent and improve their performance. The survey was open to all members of the vision care products and services industry and was fielded from November 9–24, 2020. The survey received 1,527 usable responses, all U.S.-based.

The comprehensive report is available to download here, along with several industry segment-specific reports highlighting data from different industry segments.

“As we look to the future of The Vision Council and our industry, fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community is paramount to our mission of creating more opportunities for community-building and encouraging industry growth,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “The information gathered from the 2020 survey will help us move the industry forward in an informed, thoughtful way. We must recognize, however, that while the survey marks an important starting point in gathering information and benchmarks that will allow us to create a more inclusive vision care community, we still have work to do. We look forward to working together to identify milestones and goals for the industry and providing tangible, actionable pathways for our members to access.”

The Vision Council’s main goals in commissioning the survey included: to assess diversity, inclusion, and career perceptions within the optical industry; to understand if certain populations were experiencing the industry differently, and to obtain feedback on how The Vision Council and other network organizations can provide support in this area.

The report provides an analysis and overview of the survey results in five key topic areas, defined below:

  • DEI Commitment: The survey asked respondents if their organization or institution demonstrates a commitment to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in concrete ways, through behaviors and communications.
  • Belonging: This section of the survey asked respondents about their feelings of “belonging,” defined as the feelings of affinity for a place or situation, at their organizations. Belonging correlates strongly with employee engagement, which in turn is known to have positive impact on organizational outcomes such as productivity, revenue and even turnover.
  • Inclusive Culture: This section asked respondents about issues related to “inclusive culture” at their workplace and within the wider industry. The survey defines an inclusive culture as one that accepts, values, and views as strengths the differences every individual brings to the table. An industry that has an inclusive culture will be perceived in tangible ways such as seeing people of different dimensions of diversity within the industry and the behaviors that are experienced by the workforce.
  • Equity and Systems: In this section, an assessment of whether equity is present within organizational systems is investigated. To determine this, the survey asks respondents to consider how power is distributed within their organization, who contributes to decision making, the distribution of workload, and representation of diversity across the organization or industry.
  • Rewards, Recognition, and Advancement: This section of the survey asked respondents questions aimed at better understanding if rewards, recognition and advancement opportunities are equitably distributed across the industry or a respondent’s organization.

Survey Respondent Demographics

The industry segment breakdown of the 1,527 respondents includes:

  • Independent Eyecare and Retail: 37 percent
  • Academia: 20 percent
  • Supplier and Manufacturer: 19 percent
  • Corporate Eyecare and Retail: 16 percent
  • Industry group or other (includes buying groups, trade media, nonprofit organizations): 8 percent

Additionally, of the 1,527 respondents, 61 percent identify as female, 38 percent as male and less than one percent as gender non-binary or non-conforming.

Report Scale

Note, when reviewing the report, the percentage scores indicate strengths or areas of opportunity. The scale below is provided to offer additional context and consideration for the results of the survey:

  • Items above 85 percent are typically viewed as strengths.
  • Items between 84 percent and 70 percent are a mix of emerging strengths or areas to be aware of.
  • Items below 75 percent indicate areas of opportunity.

Key Survey Insights

Highlights and key insights from the survey responses across industry segments are included below:

Suppliers and Manufacturers

  • Responses from members of the salesforce within the suppliers and manufacturers segment regarding inclusion were higher compared to responses from other parts of the organization within this industry segment. For example, 64 percent of respondents within the suppliers and manufacturers segment who identified as members of the salesforce feel that promotion decisions are fairly and equitably determined compared to 56 percent of all respondents within this segment.
  • Senior leaders who responded within the suppliers and manufacturers segment deem helping their organizations to become more diverse and inclusive a high priority.  92 percent deem it their responsibility to help their organization become more diverse, inclusive and equitable.


  • Student respondents had one of the highest scores in feeling the need for a focus on DEI across all segments. 89 percent of students responding in the academia segment indicated they believe it is important to focus on improving DEI.
  • When asked how they viewed their opportunities for advancements, there were differences in opinions among respondents from different demographic groups within the academia segment. 75 percent of those respondents within the academia segment who identify as white feel they have the ability to advance their career in this industry, compared to 58 percent of those respondents within the academia segment who identify as people of color.

Independent Eyecare and Retail

  • There are discrepancies when comparing the responses of owners within the independent eyecare and retail segment to the responses of staff within this segment.  Owners seem to perceive they are providing a more inclusive culture than what their staff feels. A need for more open-ended dialogue is apparent in this segment.
  • 88 percent of owners feel that their organization’s Board, management team or senior leadership demonstrates commitment to DEI, but less than 75 percent of staff feel that management has this commitment. Of note, among those who identified as having a disability within this industry segment, only 61 percent felt this commitment from their leadership.

Corporate Eyecare and Retail

  • A more diverse group of people responded to the survey in the corporate eyecare and retail segment compared to the demographics of the people who responded within the independent eyecare and retail segment.
  • However, the corporate eyecare and retail respondents provided some of the lowest scores to key questions regarding equity and inclusion compared to other segments. For example, 46 percent of respondents in this segment feel that their ideas are strongly considered in the decision-making process at their organization compared to 64 percent of all survey respondents who feel their ideas are strongly considered.

Industry Groups (includes buying groups, trade media, non-profit organizations)

  • Overall, respondents in the industry groups segment reported a higher feeling of belonging than respondents in other segments. 81 percent of respondents in the industry groups segment said they feel comfortable bringing their authentic ‘whole self’ to their places of work.
  • Questions around rewards, recognition, and advancements showed discrepancies among different demographics within the industry groups segment. For example, 73 percent of men in this segment felt that recognition for performance is fairly and equitably distributed among their colleagues, compared to 49 percent of women in this segment.

The Vision Council’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force is using the survey results to prioritize key areas for change; identify potential policy and culture shift; set impact measurements, and identify additional resources for the industry. The Task Force’s next steps and recommendations will be shared in the coming months.

An analysis of the 2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion survey was presented by The Vision Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force following their review of the survey results at The Vision Council’s 2021 Virtual Executive Summit, which took place virtually January 26–28, 2021. The presentation is available to view through the Executive Summit’s On-Demand platform, available now until April 28, 2021. To learn more, click here.

About The Vision Council
As the vision care leader in enabling better vision for better lives, The Vision Council positions its members for success by promoting growth in the vision care industry through education, advocacy, research, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building, and industry forums. Furthermore, through a partnership with Think About Your Eyes, The Vision Council supports consumer education around eyewear and eyecare.

TC Charton Eyewear - Made To Fit