DEI is dying. And it’s about time

Wall Street's DEI Retreat Has Officially Begun. As DEI gets more divisive, companies are ditching their teams.

These are not headlines I thought I’d be reading in 2024, but it’s a happy day when legacy news sites as hegemonic as Bloomberg and The Washington Post are using such clear language to flag the retreat of DEI from corporate America.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) bills itself as a framework for promoting fair treatment and full participation for all people in the workforce, with a special focus on groups historically hurt by discrimination, like women, racial minorities and LGBT individuals.

What DEI has generally looked like in practice, however, is a new brand of bigotry to replace the old, where a person’s outward identity trumps their merit or performance. Meanwhile, those possessing genuine talent but the wrong attributes (think male, white or straight) have found themselves punished for factors out of their control.

American philosopher Dr Peter Boghossian was part of the infamous Grievance Studies Affair project, and later made headlines for resigning from his prestigious post at Portland State University after the school became overrun with DEI ideology. He has offered more honest definitions for this contentious three-letter acronym.

Diversity, according to Boghossian, means people who look different but think alike. Equity, he says, means making up for past discrimination with current discrimination. And Inclusion, he argues, means restricting speech.

Nowhere have Boghossian’s DEI definitions proven more prescient than at Harvard University, which became embroiled in a months-long scandal late last year as the woke worldview of then-President Claudine Gay unravelled in real time before a watching world.

Ms Gay’s failures were at least threefold.

First, she carved a path of effectively destroying the careers of dissident Harvard scholars, even if they were from racial minorities: economist Roland Fryer and law professor Ronald Sullivan being two prominent examples.

Second, following unconscionable pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus, she was asked during a Capitol Hill deposition whether calling for genocide against Jews ran counter to Harvard’s harassment policy, and she equivocated, bigly.

Third and perhaps most unforgivably for an Ivy League president, some 50 instances of plagiarism were latterly uncovered in her rather threadbare canon of scholarship.

There is no doubt that the fall of Claudine Gay was a turning point for wokery in America’s institutions. If reporting from Bloomberg and WaPo is anything to go on, it also marked the beginning of the end for DEI.

Writes Bloomberg:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has made a surprising change to its Possibilities Summit” for Black college students: Its opened the program to White students.

At Bank of America Corp., certain internal programs that used to focus on women and minorities have been broadened to include everyone.

And at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., executives are being urged to reconsider hard metrics for workforce diversity. Lose them, lawyers have advised.

This is what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like on Wall Street today: anxious, fraught — and changing fast.

From C-suites down, American finance is quietly reassessing its promises to level the playing field. The growing conservative assault on DEI, coupled with pockets of resentment among White employees, have executives moving to head off accusations of reverse discrimination. Its not just Wall Street. In recent weeks, Zoom Video Communications Inc. cut its internal DEI team amid broader layoffs and Tesla Inc. removed language about minority workers from a regulatory filing.

The seemingly small changes — lawyerly tweaks, executives call them — are starting to add up to something big: the end of a watershed era for diversity in the US workplace, and the start of a new, uncertain one.

The news from WaPo is just as bright:

DEI jobs peaked in early 2023 before falling 5 percent that year and shrinking by 8 percent so far in 2024, according to Revelio Labs data shared with The Washington Post. The attrition rate for DEI roles has been about double that of non-DEI jobs, says Revelio, which tracks workforce dynamics.

In recent weeks, Zoom axed its internal DEI team amid broader layoffs, and Snap cut workers who worked on retention and engagement efforts for employees from underrepresented groups. Meta, Tesla, DoorDash, Lyft, Home Depot, Wayfair and X were among major corporations making steep cuts in 2023, slashing the size of their DEI teams by 50 percent or more, Revelios data shows.



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Conservative journalist Christopher Rufo, who has been at the forefront of the counter-DEI revolution, has hailed these results as a historic turning point.

“DEI is not an inevitability,” he wrote in City Journal last week. “It is a choice that can be undone.”

Rufo reports having recently spoken with several Fortune 500 executives who had felt immense pressure to enact DEI initiatives following the summer of George Floyd. “But four years later, they have realized that DEI programs undermine productivity, destroy merit-based systems, and poison corporate culture.”

In the wake of events like the Harvard scandal, Rufo explains, these executives “now have the political space — in essence, the social permission — to wind down these programs.”

No small part of turning tide comes thanks to the introduction of 76 anti-DEI bills in US state legislatures, with 17 states either passing or considering them, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“We should celebrate the moment,” Rufo declares — “But we need to do much more.”

Let’s hope it’s only up from here.

Kurt presents a pretty negative view of DEI. Is he on the money? What do you think? Tell us in the comments box below.

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

Image: Bigstock


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  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-03-15 00:41:08 +1100
    Great observation Steven, thanks for sharing.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-03-12 19:00:28 +1100
    The problem with something like a DEI bureaucracy is that once it is established it has to justify its existence. So it starts looking for examples of inequality of exclusion or lack of diversity.

    Guess what. If you look hard enough you can find examples of bad behaviour. And with enough imagination almost anything can be spun as bad behaviour.

    Here is an example.

    We were a team of eight. The company was moving to new temporary premises. The move was to take place over 3 days.

    Quite arbitrarily 4 of us were selected to move on day 1 and the remaining 4 on day 2.

    When the day 1 group arrived they found the floor divided into 4-desk cubicles with metre high partitions. Two adjacent ones had been made available to us. The day 1 group grabbed the corner one with a lot more window space for themselves. The day two group had to settle for second best.

    The day 1 group comprised two people of Chinese origin and two people from the Subcontinent so you could, I suppose, call them the “Asian group”.

    The day 2 group was made up of one Scotsman, one Englishman, one native born Australian Caucasian and one aging Ashkenazi Jew from South Africa who was the boss. The boss grabbed the least favourable seat for himself as was his practice in these cases.

    All went well for about a month. The partitions were only a metre high so we could pass each other stuff over the one that divided us or stand at the partition and chat.

    Then an HR flack walked past and saw that one cubicle had Asians and one had Whites. He demanded that we mix it up. In fairness everybody was ready to change seats even though it was a schlepp.

    But the boss wasn’t. He brought in some power tools and took down the dividing partition. So now we were all in one enlarged cubicle.

    The HR flack returned a few days later saw what we had done and started to attack the boss as a trouble maker. The boss listened in silence and then ignored him. His boss had no stomach to carry this further.

    This is how ridiculous it gets. That a seating arrangement that arose randomly and that no one was complaining about, and that was in any case temporary, can be interpreted as “racist”.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-03-12 14:09:43 +1100
    Thanks Marty and Steven :)
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-03-12 09:45:53 +1100
    For once I agree with Mahlburg. Dismantling DEI bureaucracies is a good news story.
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2024-03-12 05:01:59 +1100
    DEI is at best unfair and at worst discriminatory and malicious. Nice article Kurt
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    published this page in The Latest 2024-03-11 15:05:01 +1100