Number Of Black Promotions Drop As Companies Backpedal On Diversity-Focused Efforts

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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Less black professionals are being promoted following a decrease in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at U.S. companies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The number of American organizations with a DEI budget dropped from 58% in 2022 to 54% in 2023. U.S. companies are now promoting black professionals at nearly the same rate as in 2019, which is much slower than the accelerated rates seen after the death of George Floyd in 2020, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Judge Suspends California Community Colleges Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Rules)

Black women were promoted to their first management role at a rate of 54 to every 100 men of all races in 2022, compared to 96 black women for every 100 men in 2021, the WSJ reported, citing data from McKinsey & Co. Promotion rates for black men dropped from 72 promotions for every 100 men of any race elevated in a management role in 2021 to 66 black men promoted for every 100 men in 2022.

The Empire State Building is seen along the Manhattan skyline in New York City on July 24, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

Among workers, 32% believed that working at an ethnically diverse place was “very important” to them and 38% said it was “not too/not at all important,” according to a Pew Research Center survey. In the poll, 26% of workers found an “equal mix of men and women” to be “very important” in the workplace, while 44% said it’s not important.

“There is a really dramatic kind of pushback and retreat that I’ve seen in lots of places as it relates to the focus on Black men and Black women in the workforce,” James White, the former CEO of Jamba who serves as the board chair of Honest Co., a consumer goods company, told the WSJ.

Large multinational corporations including Netflix, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery announced the exit of high-profile DEI executives, and thousands of employees in DEI-related positions have been laid off since 2022.

Companies are backing away from diversity language following concerns that the Supreme Court might target DEI efforts and programs in the workplace after striking down race-based college admissions in June.

There are eight black chief executives in the Fortune 500 as of 2023, compared to four in 2020, according to the WSJ.

“If you were borderline committed, you’ve just kind of exhaled and retreated,” Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, a research and consulting firm, told the WSJ.

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