DEI roles are disappearing only a few years after many were created
These disappearances further makes corporations’ response to the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests seem performative.
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In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the global protests that followed in 2020, DEI roles in corporations and institutions nationwide increased by 55%. This number had dropped to 33% by the end of 2022.
TechTarget.com specifically defines the chief diversity officer as “a senior leader who develops and implements diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within an organization.”
It also defines their purpose as boosting diversity and inclusion as core values and components of the company’s culture.
While the implementation of the roles have been to increase or incorporate DEI initiatives within an organization, the racial makeup of chief diversity officers is surprisingly not diverse. According to statistics published by Zippia.com, 76.1% are white, 7.8% are Latino, 7.7% are Asian, and 3.8% are Black.
Those numbers don’t accurately represent the overall population diversity of the United States.
Therefore cutting their positions or their teams can further make a company’s stance on diversity look performative, especially with who they help represent.
Greg Cunningham, the chief diversity officer at U.S. Bank, told USA Today that his job is “to represent those who historically have felt like they haven’t had a voice and oftentimes don’t get seen and they don’t have equitable access to opportunity. I represent their voices at the most senior levels of the organization.”
From September to December 2022, tech layoffs affected 47% of female tech employees and 11% of Latino tech employees. These groups make up 39% and 10% of the industry, respectively.
Wade Hinton, founder of Hinton and Co., told NBC News, “This is a role that is essential to advocating and advancing the progress for underrepresented talent at these organizations. And so, you want to make sure that it reflects the diversity of our communities and this country, and it’s clear that we’ve got work to do on this.”
In early February 2023, Revelio Labs found that more than 300 people working in DEI have left companies that recently had layoffs. Sometimes these layoffs lead to a company’s entire DEI team being let go.
The reason behind the layoffs doesn’t seem to be that the team isn’t doing well. According to the same article, companies that have DEI teams generally have more diverse new hires, as well as higher employee satisfaction.
Reylan Agas, who is a senior economist at Revelio Labs, also spoke to NBC News and talked about how the data showed companies didn’t follow through with what they’d said they’d do.
“In 2020, a lot of companies made big commitments, big statements around the DEI roles and goals. And as we are observing a turning of that tide, I think it’s very timely that we actually look into companies to see if they have kept up with those big statements they made,” she said.
The Washington Post discovered that corporations had pledged almost $50 billion to racial inequality, but the majority of it — $45.2 billion — were allocated as loans or investments that the company could profit from. Out of the $50 billion, $4.2 billion were pledged in the form of grants and $70 million went to organizations that focus on criminal reform.
The need for more DEI is something that will not be diminished. Therefore, it is up to these corporations to ensure the conversation continues to be had, and it is through the continued hiring and retaining of DEI executives.
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