As DEI gets more divisive, companies are ditching their teams


 After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many companies vowed to prioritize racial equity and diversity by establishing dedicated teams for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. However, a recent trend shows that corporate America is retracting, with reports indicating a decline in DEI jobs. According to data from Revelio Labs shared with The Washington Post, DEI jobs peaked in early 2023 but then decreased by 5 percent that year and by an additional 8 percent in 2024. Revelio also noted that the attrition rate for DEI roles has been about double that of non-DEI jobs.

Several major companies, including Zoom, Snap, Meta, Tesla, DoorDash, Lyft, Home Depot, Wayfair, and X have significantly reduced the size of their DEI teams, with some slashing them by 50 percent or more. Additionally, there is a shift from internal DEI teams to hiring DEI consultants, prompting concerns about the ongoing commitment to DEI work. This decrease in DEI efforts aligns with a rise in legal and political challenges to systemic initiatives aimed at enhancing racial equality.

The conservative activist, Edward Blum, known for his successful lawsuits against affirmative action in college admissions, has also filed legal complaints against various corporations and organizations over their diversity practices. This legal pressure, combined with the changing political environment, has instigated a reevaluation of DEI policies by many companies.

However, despite the overall decrease in DEI roles, there are companies such as J.M. Smucker, Victoria’s Secret, Michaels, Moderna, Prudential, ConocoPhillips, Conagra Brands, and NASA that have expanded their DEI teams significantly, demonstrating a continued commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.

The complex landscape of DEI work also reflects the challenges faced by DEI professionals, with some expressing frustration about the resistance they encounter from company executives and the constant pressure to demonstrate a "return on investment" for DEI initiatives. Despite these obstacles, there are voices within the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus urging companies to maintain their focus on DEI efforts and combat the growing attacks on diversity initiatives.

Ultimately, this period presents a critical juncture for corporate America in terms of its DEI commitments. As Cristina Jimenez, head of DEI at RHR International, highlighted, the current environment has left many organizations feeling uncertain about their next steps in enhancing diversity in the workplace.  

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