DEI is Dying. And It’s About Time! thumbnail

DEI is Dying. And It’s About Time!

By MercatorNet – Navigating Modern Complexities

Wall Streets DEI Retreat Has Officially Begun. As DEI gets more divisive, companies are ditching their teams.

These are not headlines I thought I’d be reading in 2024, but it’s a happy day when legacy news sites as hegemonic as Bloomberg and The Washington Post are using such clear language to flag the retreat of DEI from corporate America.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (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.

American philosopher Dr Peter Boghossian was part of the infamous Grievance Studies Affair project, and later made headlines for resigning from his prestigious post at Portland State University after the school became overrun with DEI ideology. He has offered more honest definitions for this contentious three-letter acronym.

Diversity, according to Boghossian, means people who look different but think alike. Equity, he says, means making up for past discrimination with current discrimination. And Inclusion, he argues, means restricting speech.

Nowhere have Boghossian’s DEI definitions proven more prescient than at Harvard University, which became embroiled in a months-long scandal late last year as the woke worldview of then-President Claudine Gay unravelled in real time before a watching world.

Ms Gay’s failures were at least threefold.

First, she carved a path of effectively destroying the careers of dissident Harvard scholars, even if they were from racial minorities: economist Roland Fryer and law professor Ronald Sullivan being two prominent examples.

Second, following unconscionable pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus, she was asked during a Capitol Hill deposition whether calling for genocide against Jews ran counter to Harvard’s harassment policy, and she equivocated, bigly.

Third and perhaps most unforgivably for an Ivy League president, some 50 instances of plagiarism were latterly uncovered in her rather threadbare canon of scholarship.

There is no doubt that the fall of Claudine Gay was a turning point for wokery in America’s institutions. If reporting from Bloomberg and WaPo is anything to go on, it also marked the beginning of the end for DEI.

Writes Bloomberg:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has made a surprising change to its Possibilities Summit” for Black college students: Its opened the program to White students.

At Bank of America Corp., certain internal programs that used to focus on women and minorities have been broadened to include everyone.

And at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., executives are being urged to reconsider hard metrics for workforce diversity. Lose them, lawyers have advised.

This is what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like on Wall Street today: anxious, fraught — and changing fast.

From C-suites down, American finance is quietly reassessing its promises to level the playing field. The growing conservative assault on DEI, coupled with pockets of resentment among White employees, have executives moving to head off accusations of reverse discrimination. Its not just Wall Street. In recent weeks, Zoom Video Communications Inc. cut its internal DEI team amid broader layoffs and Tesla Inc. removed language about minority workers from a regulatory filing.

The seemingly small changes — lawyerly tweaks, executives call them — are starting to add up to something big: the end of a watershed era for diversity in the US workplace, and the start of a new, uncertain one.

The news from WaPo is just as bright:

DEI jobs peaked in early 2023 before falling 5 percent that year and shrinking by 8 percent so far in 2024, according to Revelio Labs data shared with The Washington Post. The attrition rate for DEI roles has been about double that of non-DEI jobs, says Revelio, which tracks workforce dynamics.

In recent weeks, Zoom axed its internal DEI team amid broader layoffs, and Snap cut workers who worked on retention and engagement efforts for employees from underrepresented groups. Meta, Tesla, DoorDash, Lyft, Home Depot, Wayfair and X were among major corporations making steep cuts in 2023, slashing the size of their DEI teams by 50 percent or more, Revelios data shows.

Conservative journalist Christopher Rufo, who has been at the forefront of the counter-DEI revolution, has hailed these results as a historic turning point.

“DEI is not an inevitability,” he wrote in City Journal last week. “It is a choice that can be undone.”

Rufo reports having recently spoken with several Fortune 500 executives who had felt immense pressure to enact DEI initiatives following the summer of George Floyd. “But four years later, they have realized that DEI programs undermine productivity, destroy merit-based systems, and poison corporate culture.”

In the wake of events like the Harvard scandal, Rufo explains, these executives “now have the political space — in essence, the social permission — to wind down these programs.”

No small part of turning tide comes thanks to the introduction of 76 anti-DEI bills in U.S. state legislatures, with 17 states either passing or considering them, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“We should celebrate the moment,” Rufo declares — “But we need to do much more.”

Let’s hope it’s only up from here.

Kurt presents a pretty negative view of DEI. Is he on the money? What do you think? Tell us in the comments box below.



Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Mercator column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.