DEI positions dwindling amid company layoffs, Republican political pressure, and court decision

DEI programs for the Walt Disney World Resort are now banned by the new district.

Published: August 3, 2023 12:32am

A growing number of companies are laying off diversity, equity, and inclusion employees as Republicans have pushed back against such hires in both the federal government and private sector and the Supreme Court ruled against affirmative action.

The number of chief diversity officers and other DEI positions is shrinking as companies are laying off employees in those positions, Republicans are enacting legislation and telling companies to end race-based hiring, and the Supreme Court ruled that Harvard University can no longer admit students based on race.

DEI policies prioritize gender, race, ethnicity and ideological beliefs in hiring or admissions.

Companies such as Netflix, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery have recently said that DEI executives will be leaving their positions, the Wall Street Journal reported. Chief Diversity Officers have experienced a 40% higher turnover than their human resources counterparts, according to employment data provider Live Data Technologies, the Journal reported. Additionally, the number of searches for chief diversity officers has decreased by 75% in the past year, chief executive of Hanold Associates Executive Search Jason Hanold told the Journal. 

The Society for Human Resource Management, an HR trade association quoted Kara Yarnot, vice president of strategic consulting services at recruitment agency HireClix in Gloucester, Massachusetts, saying "This statistic is alarming and disappointing. When some companies need to find places to be cut, unfortunately they tend to cut areas like DE&I and talent acquisition."

As the tech sector began layoffs last year amid an economic downturn, many companies reevaluated their DEI jobs, a number of which were created following the Black Lives Matter riots in summer 2020.

Job postings for DEI positions on the hiring website Indeed rose by 56.3% from September 2019 to September 2020. LinkedIn’s study found that there was a 168.9% increase of chief diversity officers from 2019 to 2022.

Government officials have also pushed back against DEI positions, citing racial discrimination. "The so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives were advanced during the tenure of the previous board and they were illegal and simply un-American," said Glenton Gilzean, director of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The new district overseeing Walt Disney World Resort announced on Tuesday that it will abolish all DEI programs and race-based hiring practices, Fox Business reported.

The current district board was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) following Disney’s opposition to the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill.

"Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal," Gilzean added. 

The previous district, which was appointed by Disney, had "routinely awarded contracts based on racially and gender driven goals to businesses on the basis of their owners’ race and gender," according to the new board.

The quotas required the district to "aggressively monitor contractor’s racial and gender practices, wasting taxpayer dollars," the new board added.

Racially-based DEI hiring practices have come under scrutiny as 13 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Fortune 100 CEOs last month, warning them about "discriminating on the basis of race, whether under the label of 'diversity, equity, and inclusion' or otherwise."

The AGs referenced the recent Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, which struck down the school's affirmative action admissions policies, and the AGs noted that the ruling had implications beyond higher education.

"Notably, the Court also recognized that federal civil-rights statutes prohibiting private entities from engaging in race discrimination apply at least as broadly as the prohibition against race discrimination found in the Equal Protection Clause," the AGs wrote. "In sum, the Court powerfully reinforced the principle that all racial discrimination, no matter the motivation, is invidious and unlawful."

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in June signed a bill into law that prohibits public colleges and universities from implementing DEI policies for hiring or admissions.

The bill was authored by Texas state Sen. Brandon Creighton (R), who said about the new law, “DEI offices have grown in size and influence across college campuses requiring political litmus tests, compelled speech and mandatory diversity statements. Despite hundreds of employees and millions of tax dollars, just here in Texas, DEI offices have failed to make progress advancing or increasing diversity.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is also tackling DEI offices in the federal government.

On Monday, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) introduced a bill that would eliminate the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the House, which was created by Democrats when they took control of the chamber in 2019.

Mooney’s announcement noted that DEI “offices have become the latest woke liberal method of injecting cultural Marxism into the workplace. These offices start with the premise that white people are inheritably racist and oppressive. The House of Representatives does not need bureaucrats promoting this divisive ideology.”

Mooney also noted that the House had voted to eliminate DEI offices in the Department of Defense through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The $886 billion defense package was passed by the House earlier last month, with the provision to abolish the Pentagon’s DEI offices, but then the Senate passed its own version of the bill, which has to be reconciled with the lower chamber’s.

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