From mid-2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Harvard and other universities have unconstitutional policies for underrepresented races. In the midst of this, where does DEI go from here? Here are five effective corrections!
In December 2023, Elon Musk posted on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that "DEI must die. 」（DEI must DIE）。
In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action by disadvantaged college admissions was unconstitutional, giving more confidence to reactionaries.
The president of the largest human resources organization in the United States said that the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies of American companies will be under full attack in 2024. Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Human Resource Management Association, told reporters that we have seen some companies abandon DEI. 」
Harvard University was found unconstitutional, the Fearless Fund program was terminated, and employees leaked information to Internet celebrities to oppose DEI
The anti-DEI legitimacy wave began in June 2023, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina had unconstitutional admissions methods to protect disadvantaged races. This result overturns a 45-year precedent and poses a challenge to the "diverse talent" recruitment of many companies.
Edward Bloom, a conservative, was so encouraged by the precedent that he filed a lawsuit against the investment firm Dreadnought Fund in the summer of the same year. The company provides funding to companies run by non-white women. Bloom's lawsuit was based on the fact that it violated the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibiting racial discrimination in contracts.
As a result, a federal appeals court terminated the Fearless Fund, which was supposed to provide $20,000 to Black women entrepreneurs.
Screenshot from @elonmusk
The Supreme Court's decision on admissions policies does not apply directly to most employers. But many employers are concerned that they will be challenged by the law.
There is a backlash from conservatives in the courts, and there are many employees in society who are dissatisfied with the organization's DEI policy.
For example, Coca-Cola's anti-racism course materials in the United States were leaked by employees to Internet celebrities and were criticized. Coca-Cola issued a statement apologizing to those offended. Other companies, including Home Depot and Google, have also experienced employee resistance or rejection of certain DEI measures.
The backlash from DEI has emerged in a variety of ways—some public, some more subtle, including employees failing to participate in prescribed training programs, refusing to use someone else's pronouns, voicing concerns, working to resist, and even filing reverse discrimination lawsuits.
And for DEI leaders, that's one of their big challenges. In 2022, Gartner's global survey of DEI leaders found that one of the biggest challenges leaders face is employees who resist DEI.
Reactionaries who advocate a political view that restores things to their former ways and those who oppose reforms that transform society believe that society has positive characteristics that it does not have in today's society. Backlash, the more common term for journalism, is more neutral and usually refers to "rebound", and does not necessarily have a "progressive/backward" presupposition when used.
What to do in the event of a backlash? Backlash is a process of dialogue, and it is common in affirmative action processes
As long as you are moving forward, you will encounter opposition to it, after all, there are many kinds of society, and that is a normal process.
Since reactionary counterattacks are normal. Then we can think about how to count the counterattack in the process of progress, and stop and think, is there any people in the wave of counterattack who "feel excluded and not invited", how can we include those people and make them feel involved, where can the existing mechanisms be too crude, and how can they be better designed?
Hate each other will consume the momentum of change, can we find a more constructive third way in hatred, ridicule, and abuse?
In fact, DEI leaders in their organizations are facing the reactionary backlash that feminists often face, and must think about promoting progress in a way that "doesn't make people feel like oppressors or bad people because of their status," and does the same to the wider public.
Feminists will encounter men around them who worry that they are "seen as evil", and if you are a leader of DEI who gives people a sense of security, you will encounter a similar situation.
After Unispace, a global interior design firm, launched its first ERG (Employee Resource Group) focused on women in the workplace, Chief Diversity Officer Chely Wright said, "I've gotten a couple of calls from men in the company who are interested in talking to me about their concerns and their fears: they want to know where they fit in. 」
(Gaying at the same time: Top 3 Challenges Enterprises Typically Encounter in Practicing DEI)
Conversations are important, as are listening and learning when there is resistance to driving change, DEI leaders.
"Many of the people I spoke to have become incredible DEI advocates and supporters," Wright said. "These people are real people with honest opinions, and they deserve to have a real, honest conversation. I genuinely believe that when people learn more, they do better. And that includes me. I'm excited to be a part of these conversations. 」
The Third Way Possible: Five Concrete Options in the Face of Anti-DEI Voices
1. The CEO and top management must be unwavering in their support and communicate why
In many cases, when policy implementation encounters opposition, it is not because the policy objectives are wrong, but because it takes time to change: better communication, understanding, and manifest change. These are the places where leadership comes into play.
The leader of the company must maintain a vision and not let the vision flicker with negative whispers. However, the execution strategy needs to be adjusted as the talent reacts, and the reasons for the strategy need to be as transparent as possible.
Bertina Ceccarelli, co-author of Innovation Diversity, says, "DEI goals need to be clear to the organization, and you need to be transparent about how the company is achieving them. 」
Once you've set your goals, you need to actively communicate the "why".
The communication process must also be based on the company's goals, and employees must believe and understand that this is good for the company, not diversify for the sake of diversity.
Leaders communicate the reasons for DEI practices to increase the organization's resilience to risks, establish a safe work environment, and other considerations, so that people can better understand the practical actions based on this goal.
2. See the diversity of the dominant groups and avoid labeling
As mentioned earlier, the backlash to the DEI push is very similar to the backlash to feminism. Many white males/males feel that there is no place for them and that they are about to be excluded and labeled.
At this time, in addition to not labeling and creating a sense of shame, it is also important to let the dominant group see their diversity.
For example, he is also a father or a caregiver for the elderly. Dominant groups are not monolithic, and when they see their own diversity, people will be more able to understand the need for diversity and inclusion.
"Through the development, initiation, and discussion of the DEIB strategy, I can understand why a lot of straight white men feel like there's no place for them, but it shouldn't be," she said. "At DEIB, diversity means everyone, not just people of color, women, or the LGBTQ+ community. 」
3. Create spaces that accommodate different ethnic groups
There are identities that are shared across ethnic groups. Allowing different groups of people to feel more "commonality" in the midst of their differences is one way to get people involved in the DEI conversation.
For example, everyone may be a caregiver at different stages of their lives (taking care of a child, or caring for a parent). One of Unispace's ERGs focuses on parents and caregivers, "We wanted to create a space that would naturally accommodate different groups of people," Wright said. "In terms of the composition of our workforce, fathers outnumber mothers. This group is a way to get people involved in the DEIB conversation that they would otherwise feel like the DEIB doesn't apply to them. 」
4. Help critics gain new perspectives
People who openly criticize DEI tend to be more vocal than others, but sticking to the strategy can have a surprising effect.
Everyone has a different belief system, understand where their beliefs are at the moment, actively interact and listen, put yourself in their shoes, and help them gain new perspectives.
"We don't know what we don't know," says Anand, a DEI consultant and author, "and we may not know about people who are different from us, their lived experiences. If we don't interact with these people and listen, if we don't take responsibility for learning, we won't be able to gain new perspectives ourselves, she said.
Anand shared her experience with an organization where one of the leaders was "very homophobic." She suggested that he sponsor the Pride LGBT ERG. She said the other party was a little surprised, but he did it. With the joint efforts of the Proud Comrade ERG and the promoters, when he left the organization, he told her that the most important growth opportunity for him was to become the founder of the ERG. It gave him the opportunity to hear about the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ employees, and he got to know them in a different way, which really turned his worldview upside down.
5. Empower everyone to make a positive difference
When the focus is on different groups, some people feel that their opportunities are reduced – that there is no room for me to exist. These people may see themselves as enemies. That's when we need to create a supportive atmosphere for all employees.
According to psychological research and theory, people feel more motivated when goals are set to promote good things rather than prevent them. This means that when DEI is not about "avoiding racism" or "not discriminating," but about "promoting equity" or "being allies," employees are less defensive and more engaged.
In a working paper on diversity initiatives written by Kaylene J. McClanahan and Margaret Shih of UCLA Anderson, the authors argue that there is a very basic reason why white people may be hesitant to participate in DEI efforts: "They are not sure if they want to participate in DEI projects, if they belong to them, or if they can make meaningful contributions. 」
The paper argues that if the message of diversity explicitly welcomes whites as allies with blacks, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color, then whites will be more engaged. Experiments with more than 5,000 participants showed that whites responded positively to ally invitation messages.
Looking at the future optimistically, we are still on the way!
Kenji Yoshino, director of the DEIB Center at New York University School of Law, said about this wave of reaction, pessimists say, this is a terrible moment for DEI, DEI is over, the sky is falling, and I want to ask people what exactly they think DEI is. 」
In the United States, more than 40 percent of the country's population now considers themselves non-white, according to U.S. census data. With more than 50% of the country's population expected to identify as non-white by 2050, DEI will receive more attention and become a daily routine in the future.
Musk may be arrogant and biased against DEI policies, but he does have a right thing to say on X, "The point is to end discrimination, not replace it with a different one" Musk wrote.
(Gaying in the same scene: 3 steps to get rid of unconscious bias and let the mind be free!|Diversity and Inclusion Etude)
The process of ending discrimination requires tearing away labels, creating allies, and an inclusive and supportive environment. As for the DEI support program originally designed for disadvantaged groups, we began to think about how to design the system so that other people other than disadvantaged groups can also play different roles in such programs, participate in them, and understand their value.
Porter Braswell, founder of 2045 Studio, an affiliate network for professionals of color, said some corporate DEI programs now cover a broader group of people. "I think it's not so much a program for Black employees," he said, "it's a program that improves the fairness of promotions across the company, and everybody can apply to be part of the program, but will play a different role.'" 」