After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in higher education in June, conservative activists and public officials are taking legal action to disrupt corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts.
A report by The Wall Street Journal indicated that several big-name employers are under fire for alleged race-based favoritism:
- Comcast settled a case accusing it of illegally favoring small-business customers who are people of color with grants and marketing advice.
- Amazon has been sued in Texas over a program offering an extra $10,000 to Black- or Latino-owned delivery-service contractors.
- Starbucks directors and executives are being sued by a shareholder arguing the company violated its duty to investors by supporting diversity policies.
In July, 13 Republican state attorneys general warned Fortune 100 leaders to end racial preferences in hiring practices. Days later, a group of Democratic politicians encouraged these same companies to double down on DE&I efforts.
Companies are evaluating diversity programs in light of litigation threats, and many are asking their lawyers if and how much they should modify their methods in light of the affirmative action decision, according to The Wall Street Journal article.
SHRM Online has collected additional news on this topic.
How Affirmative Action Reversal Could Impact DE&I Programs
After the Supreme Court gutted affirmative action in college admissions, some workplace experts say the ruling could lead to fewer employment opportunities for people of color—if fewer are admitted to colleges because of the removal of race-conscious admissions practices—and, as a result, impact recruiting and hiring efforts. However, others say the court's decision shouldn't immediately change the way employers implement their DE&I initiatives.
Corporate America Is Slashing DE&I Jobs Amid Backlash
Beginning in late 2020, a host of companies escalated cuts of DE&I professionals. Experts attribute the elimination of these jobs to a shaky economy, layoffs and public scrutiny of DE&I from state politicians, some of whom have passed laws restricting DE&I efforts.
Are Companies Too ‘Woke’?
Many companies fear being perceived as "too woke," especially in advance of the 2024 election cycle. The recent Supreme Court ruling that rolls back affirmative action efforts for college admissions adds more anxiety to the question of how companies should address so-called "woke" programs.
Chick-fil-A Draws Criticism Over a ‘Culture of Belonging’
Earlier this summer, many conservatives rebuked Chick-fil-A, accusing the fast-food giant of becoming "woke" after discovering a corporate policy on its website that details the company's focus on "ensuring equal access," "valuing differences," and "creating a culture of belonging," under the title, "Committed to being Better at Together."
(The New York Times)
64 Percent of Organizations Say DE&I Is Important, yet Most Have Allocated Little to No Resources to DE&I
A study by SHRM and Boston College suggested that many organizations are fostering a climate of inclusion, especially during recruitment, hiring, orientation and onboarding. However, 62 percent of companies indicated that no resources or limited resources have been devoted to DE&I. Further, 20 percent of HR professionals say their organization's overall policies and practices are not at all fair or are only somewhat fair.