After severe backlash to some companies’ efforts to implement DEI policies, others are taking theirs undercover. Maggie Hroncich reports in The New York Sun, writing:
Many corporations aren’t backing down from their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, but they’re being careful about how they do it as public and legal pushback to DEI grows.
That’s the latest from a survey of more than 300 C-suite executives — including chief legal, executive, human resources, and diversity positions — across the country, with 57 percent saying they have been growing their diversity efforts in the past year. Yet, the survey conducted by an employment and labor law firm, Littler, also illustrates “sharp differences” between the responses of companies’ legal officers and diversity officers, suggesting that their diversity and inclusion goals clash.
DEI efforts in higher education have faced a reckoning in the past year, from the Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision banning race-based admissions to accusations the DEI agenda fosters antisemitism. The recent resignation of Claudine Gay as Harvard’s president put a new spotlight on the DEI trend, as the Sun noted, when the Harvard president emerged as a symbol of larger, systemic DEI issues.
Despite the developments in the higher education realm, though, in business, “many C-suite leaders say their organizations are now more supportive of IE&D efforts,” the study notes, scrambling the acronym’s letters to highlight the “inclusion” aspect of the formula.
“There has been a great deal of discussion about what impact the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decisions would have on employers more broadly,” a Littler shareholder, Jeanine Conley Daves, tells the Sun, adding that the survey is an attempt to gain insight into “what is actually happening” at companies.
“The results show that many employers are committed to IE&D, and many are even increasing their efforts because IE&D is so core to their values as an organization,” she said. “They are taking the prudent step of reviewing their IE&D initiatives while recognizing that many aspects of such programs can lawfully continue.”
A majority of the executives — 59 percent — said backlash has increased since the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling, but 91 percent said “the court’s opinions have not lessened their prioritization” of diversity and inclusion efforts. For the companies that have decreased DEI efforts — only 6 percent of the respondents — “concerns surrounding general legal liability and cost were the primary factors,” the study notes, including fears over reverse discrimination lawsuits.
Although reports have emerged that some companies, including Google and Meta, are slashing DEI budgets and laying off employees, the findings of Littler’s survey are in line with a December survey of human resource executives by the Conference Board, which found that none of the respondents were planning on scaling back DEI this year.
Of the 57 percent of companies that have grown their DEI efforts, 17 percent boosted “their dedication significantly,” a pattern that was especially prominent among larger companies that have more than 1,000 employees. Of the organizations surveyed, 36 percent have maintained steady DEI activity levels since 2022.
Read more here.
If you’re willing to fight for Main Street America, click here to sign up for the Richardcyoung.com free weekly email.