Conservatives Take Scalps In The Culture War

(Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

Gage Klipper Commentary & Analysis Writer
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The cottage industry built around Diversity, Equity, Inclusive (DEI) seems to have crashed almost as quickly as it went up, The Wall Street Journal reported. While left-wing grifters made a good run of their dominance over America’s C-suite, their influence was never going to last. Their premises are too faulty and un-American; their prescriptions too radical and alienating — if something can’t go on forever, it won’t.

Conservatives are rightly cheering the development, with some even going so far as to take credit for delegitimizing the corporate training programs that indict America as a racist empire and divide workers into victim and oppressor. Yet it’s unclear if this is the major victory conservatives wish it to be. Is this a sign that wokeness in the workplace — and American culture more broadly — has finally crested?

In the piece aptly titled, “The Rise and Fall of The Chief Diversity Officer” (CDO), the WSJ shows how in the wake of the George Floyd riots of 2020, companies quickly embraced an expansive DEI department. In 2018, less than half of all S&P 500 companies had a CDO, but by 2022 roughly 75 percent had created the position. Now, major companies like Netflix, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery are axing their DEI executives. Between turmoil in the tech sector and anticipation of legal challenges, “[t]housands of diversity-focused workers have been laid off since last year” as companies re-evaluate their priorities.

The WSJ points to two main reasons for the decline.

On the one hand, companies are less interested in hiring for the position. One executive recruitment expert told the WSJ that, “Demand [for CDOs] is the lowest he has seen in his 30 years of recruiting.” For companies who are hiring, they want CDOs who can help mitigate the anticipated “spillover legal action” from the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action decision rather than just champion feel-good policies.

On the other hand, “on-the-job obstruction” has left DEI workers disillusioned with their roles. A survey of diversity executives revealed a year-on-year drop in their perceived middle-management support and influence needed to accomplish their job. As lay-offs loom, many former CDOs say the only way they would “go into another role with DEI is if it includes something else.” (RELATED: Just 3 Companies Are Leading The Charge In The Marxist Takeover Of America)

In other words, supply and demand for DEI is out of whack. It is unsurprising that the WSJ’s analysis would take on an economic lens. However, in doing so, it overlooks the deeper cultural issues at play.

Perhaps it is, at root, an economic issue as it becomes increasingly clear that diversity, for both employer and employee, is about the bottom line. As DEI initiatives become a potential liability rather than a cheap virtue signal, companies are looking to shift the paradigm. As left-wing activists see their prestige begin to wane, they must move onto a new graft. This suggests an air of inevitability — a poisonous ideology finally overplaying its hand as executives make a calculated shift away from running their companies like an Oberlin gender studies department.

But it also speaks to the issue of susceptibility — a rot in the civic culture of corporate America that ever allowed itself to be captured by such an un-American ideology in the first place. Companies are tightening their belts at the moment, but if and when DEI profitability calculations change, they will surely embrace it once again. America is perpetually one bad police incident (or one presidential election) away from corporations’ total recapitulation to leftist agitators.

Additionally conservative pressure likely played a role in shifting the culture away from its embrace of DEI. Anti-critical theory activists like Chris Rufo have helped re-shaped the way America thinks about these programs. While the left for years was able to institutionalize DEI as neutral training programs, Rufo’s work has helped expose their Marxist roots and motivations.

The result is that countless people now recognize how political corporate America has become, and they are not willing to let it continue. Brands like Bud Light, Target, and Disney are likely to be permanently tarnished over their diversity stunts. This is perhaps part of the reason why diversity executives felt they had waning influence and support.

That conservative pressure likely played a role in the fall of the CDO is a good sign. It is a counterbalance of economic pressure that will help shift a company’s calculations if they face a leftist backlash over DEI. Conservatives must ensure they are able to impact corporate America’s bottom line just as much as the traditionally more organized and vengeful left. (RELATED: Bud Light Maker Quietly Hosts Secret DC Event To Elect Democrats)

While it is too soon to tell what the purge of CDOs means for American society long-term, a win is a win. Every unemployed diversity officer is a step towards a freer and more united America.