Diversity, equity and inclusion workers across corporate America have found their positions on the chopping block in recent rounds of layoffs.
At more than 600 companies that had laid off workers, the year-over-year attrition rate for DEI professionals has been higher than for other workers.
Between December 2021 and December 2022, DEI workers had a 33% attrition rate, compared to 21% for non-DEI workers, according to data from workforce analytics company Revelio Labs.
In the six months since July 2022, multiple companies have had sizable numbers of DEI employees with seniority leaving; 16 at Amazon, seven at Twitter, five at Nike, and four at Comcast, among other corporations.
The small size of many diversity teams — the median being three — means that some companies have shuttered their entire diversity departments. Over 300 DEI professionals left their company in the measured time span, Revelio Labs indicated.
In Twitter’s case, including the senior DEI employees let go, their diversity team was reduced from 30 members to two, an unnamed former employee told Bloomberg.
Listings of DEI jobs have also declined, down 19% between January and December 2022 according to Textio, a firm that helps companies write job listings without bias.
Hiring of non-White people has also slowed down. The share of people of color among new hires at TripAdvisor declined 7.13% in the six months since July 2022, with a 5.81% decline at Glassdoor, and a 4.65% decline at Wells Fargo, according to Revelio Labs.
Conservatives see the layoffs as an overdue culling of unnecessary positions that serve mainly to advance political agendas.
“These departments are products of a bloated corporate culture adding limited value to their businesses and often whose very existence reflects pressure by woke Wall Street elites to force their progressive agenda on corporate America,” Will Hild, director of conservative consumer policy group Consumers’ Research, told the Daily Mail.
Andrew Crapuchettes, CEO of job board site RedBalloon, noted in a blog that “All the virtue signaling in the world cannot forestall the economic realities of a slowing economy. In a time when bloated Big Tech companies must make budget decisions, it’s no surprise that divisive and polarizing DEI programs are under scrutiny.”
Laid off DEI workers, on the other hand, see these layoffs as a sign that companies were not getting a good return on investment in DEI initiatives.
“You’re only throwing dollars at the title and appropriation of having diverse pipelines, but you’re not actually implementing processes in inclusive communities where people can come in and thrive and grow into that environment,” D’Jaris James, a DEI professional let go by Lyft in November, told the Daily Mail.
Merging Path Coaching CEO Brooks Scott told Bloomberg that “Companies have rushed to think of the bottom line, but whenever we try to optimize for speed, we’re probably going to skip over diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Others saw the layoffs as proof of purely performative public professions of commitment to DEI by corporate America.
“People have been asking, ‘Are these CEOs really committed to DEI? Are they serious about it?’ And we now know that, for many, the answer is no,” Dee Marshall, CEO of DEI consultancy Diverse & Engaged, told Business Insider.
The layoffs could become an impediment to hiring future talent, DEI professionals contend.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion can’t be a thing that you only do when times are good. If it becomes a flavor of the week, then companies will lose out on talent,” Meta Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams told Bloomberg.
• Brad Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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