Corporate America Slowly Backs Away From ‘Diversity’ Language In Wake Of Supreme Court Decision

[Reuters/Jonathan Ernst]

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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American businesses have been moving away from using diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) language in the workplace after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in June, according to Bloomberg Law.

The Supreme Court ruled that using race-based practices in college admissions “violate[s] the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” in the highly awaited cases Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students For Fair Admissions v. the University of North Carolina, according to the decision. An analysis of the previous quarter found that 3,000 Russell Index companies dropped the use of DEI language by 54% from last year, showing the steepest decline since 2018, according to Bloomberg Law. (RELATED: Companies Are Throwing Thousands Of Diversity Officers Overboard: REPORT)

Netflix, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery all recently laid off large amounts of diversity officers at their companies. Chief diversity officers are now more likely to be let go by companies compared to similar positions in other departments, and they have a turnover rate of 40%.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 1: Students and others march through Harvard University in support of Affirmative Action after the Supreme Court ruling on July 1, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Supreme Court's landmark decision on Thursday to gut affirmative action has made it unlawful for colleges to take race into consideration as a specific factor in admissions. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Students and others march through Harvard University in support of Affirmative Action after the Supreme Court ruling on July 1, 2023, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Republican attorneys general in 13 states released a letter sent to Fortune 100 companies in July demanding that businesses stop using “explicit racial quotas and preferences in hiring, recruiting, retention, promotion, and advancement.” The officials named companies such as Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Microsoft, Netflix, Snapchat, TikTok and Uber as some of the companies using race-based hiring, promotions and contracting.

“If I were advising a client right now in this climate, I might say, ‘Maybe say less, rather than more,’” Esther Lander, an employment lawyer and partner at Akin Grump Strauss Hauer & Feld, said in an interview with Bloomberg Law. “Carefully vet what you say so you don’t become a target.”

Only 32% of Americans said that they believed an ethnically diverse workplace was “very important” to them, with 38% saying that it was “not too/not at all important” to them in their place of employment. Funding for diversity has also gone down this year, and among 140 diversity officers, only 59% planned to increase the budget for DEI compared to 84% the year prior.

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