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Corporate America Dumping DEI

by | Mon, Apr 1 2024

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies are reportedly being rapidly cut back by Corporate America. Recent headlines include Wall Street’s DEI Retreat Has Officially Begun and As DEI Gets More Divisive, Companies Are Ditching Their Teams.

Senior executives told investigative journalist Christopher Rufo that: “DEI undermines productivity, destroys merit-based systems, and poisons corporate culture.” A high profile American academic who investigated the programs found they supported discrimination and silenced free speech.

Kurt Mahlburg wrote in the Daily Declaration that: “DEI bills itself as a framework for promoting fair treatment and full participation for all people in the workforce, with a special focus on groups historically hurt by discrimination like women, racial minorities and LGBT individuals. What DEI has generally looked like in practice, however, is a new brand of bigotry to replace the old, where a person’s outward identity trumps their merit or performance. Meanwhile, those possessing genuine talent but the wrong attributes (think male, white or straight) have found themselves punished for factors out of their control.”

After thousands of Christians have lost jobs and opportunities because of DEI, finance titans like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs and tech giants like Google, Meta, Zoom and Tesla have slashed their DEI programs and budgets. Like many corporations, they’ve also pruned DEI department staff numbers.

Bloomberg reports: “As more companies divest from, or go quiet on, DEI, the unsaid message is that avoiding a lawsuit or angering conservative pundits is more important than addressing the factors that cause their workforces to have low representation of Black and Hispanic employees.”

The financial news outlet writes that: “Goldman Sachs has made a surprising change to its Possibilities Summit for Black college students: It’s opened the program to White students. At Bank of America certain internal programs that used to focus on women and minorities have been broadened to include everyone. This is what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like on Wall Street today: anxious, fraught — and changing fast. The growing conservative assault on DEI, coupled with pockets of resentment among white employees, has executives moving to head off accusations of reverse discrimination.”

DEI jobs in the US peaked in early 2023 before falling 5% and shrinking by 8% in the first few weeks of 2024 according to data shared with The Washington Post. The attrition rate for DEI roles has been double that of non-DEI jobs. Zoom axed its entire internal DEI team and replaced them with ‘consultants’ amid broader lay-offs.  Meta, Tesla, DoorDash, Lyft, Home Depot, Wayfair and X are among major corporations to halve the size of their DEI teams.

The Washington Post writes: “Corporate America’s retreat from DEI has coincided with increased legal risk and political animosity toward systemic efforts to boost racial equity. State legislators have introduced at least 65 anti-DEI bills since 2023. Thirteen Republican Attorneys-General urged Microsoft and other Fortune 100 companies to re-examine their DEI policies.”

“The recalibration is happening under serious legal pressure. Last year, when the US Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, the decision didn’t apply directly to employers. But the ruling spurred a movement, driven largely by conservative activists, to dismantle race-conscious policies in other domains of American life. In response to the ruling. America First Legal has filed legal complaints over diversity practices at scores of companies, including United Airlines, Kellogg’s, Nike, and organisations such as the FBI, the National Football League and Major League Baseball.”

Some groups have been imploring companies to maintain their DEI focus. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus sent a letter to CEOs of Fortune 100 companies, inquiring about efforts to improve Asian American diversity and encouraging them to stay the course amid growing attacks on DEI. The group noted that Asian Americans remain “severely under-represented at the senior-most levels of the largest US corporations.”

Conservative investigative journalist Christopher Rufo wrote in the City Journal that: “DEI is not an inevitability. It is a choice that can be undone. Corporate executives now have the political space — in essence, the social permission — to wind down these programs.”