Big businesses are no strangers to being scrutinized for the lack of diversity amongst their employees. In 2020, many companies decided to adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies to ensure that their hires came from diverse backgrounds. Newly implemented DEI protocols were met with mixed reviews. Some praised the inclusion efforts while others argued that people should get jobs based on their skillset instead of which marginalized group they represent.
Since then, companies have started opting out of diversity commitments. DEI positions have been reduced to cut costs while other inclusion efforts have been put on the back burner. This shift in dynamic comes fresh off the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit colleges from admitting students solely based on their race. Over a dozen Republican attorney generals have sent letters to Fortune 100 CEOs warning them not to consider race as a factor during the already complex hiring process.
But DEI experts have spoken out against companies backtracking on their responsibility to make diverse hires, saying that their flip-flopping could have long-term consequences. Kathryn Minshew, co-founder, and CEO of The Muse, believes that corporations are making a big mistake. “We have been hearing from many of our job seekers and employers alike how frustrated they are that many companies have been seemingly backing away from diversity commitments that they’ve made in the last few years,” she explained.
A poll conducted on The Muse indicated that sixty percent of people claim to have noticed their organizations retreating from diversity commitments. More than a third of users said that their employer put a strong emphasis on diversity during the initial job interview, and then failed to produce any significant DEI efforts upon being hired. It’s important to note that the poll is not an accurate portrayal of the U.S. population, as the majority of participants were non-white, 65% were women and 53% were millennials and Gen Z.
While many companies were once eager to present themselves as progressive through the false promise of DEI efforts, actually implementing diversity practices requires significant effort and funding. The financial commitment may be a notable reason why some companies have been guilty of ‘diversity ditching.’ Minshew notes that the combination of budget cuts to DEI programs and failing to see companies practice what they preach could be a recipe for disaster. She believes that the trend of ditching diversity efforts could alienate young talent who value inclusion within the workplace.
Minshew maintains that diversity is a make-or-break factor for most people when it comes to accepting a job offer, saying, “I don’t think that the job seeker pool is going to care less about [diversity].” She went on to challenge companies who decide to veer away from DEI plans, saying, “The question that I ask a lot of employers is whether they’re willing to be caught flat-footed or behind the curve when the labor market becomes stronger, and they struggle to keep talent in a more pronounced way because of their lack of attention to diversity.”