For an alternate viewpoint, see “Point: Benevolent and Vicarious Racism in Diversity.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training has become a lucrative industry. A Harvard Business Review states that “U.S. companies spend roughly $8 billion a year on DEI training.” No wonder a survey by The Economist suggests the number of people hired for jobs with “diversity” or “inclusion” in the title has more than quadrupled since 2010.
The intent of DEI programs can be debated. But regardless of intent, it’s clear the DEI agenda being pushed onto American employees is simply not working. A growing number of studies — in prominent publications like Psychology Today, Harvard Business Review and The Economist — are questioning whether DEI training has a positive effect. Employees of companies that deploy DEI programs convey similar attitudes, with 62 percent saying they’re “not working as intended.”
Unfortunately, the only thing DEI programs have managed to accomplish is to drive deeper wedges between racial groups. Gallup polling finds racial relations have deteriorated since 2013.
While American companies and institutions have imposed DEI programs with a heavy fist, studies reveal the earnings gap between Whites and Blacks has widened. At the same time, Black job seekers continue to be about half as likely to secure employment as their White counterparts. Additionally, a UCLA study found that the proportion of doctors who are Black men has remained unchanged since 1940.
Why are these programs not moving the needle for Black Americans?
In recent years, especially after the George Floyd protests, DEI proponents claim the United States has a systematic race problem. But that notion is an inaccurate depiction that unnecessarily exacerbates racial anxiety, discord and animosity.
Is America perfect? No, there’s more work to be done. But look how far we’ve come. Just turn your history book to Barack Obama, a Black president Americans elected twice! Today’s DEI crusaders have turned a blind eye to this progress.
The entire concept of DEI tells Blacks that the system is against them, and the only hope of success is taking advantage of a minority quota opportunity. The narrative drills the idea into the heads of minorities that hard work and determination are useless.
DEI also promotes the idea that when Blacks are reprimanded, it often represents “microaggressions,” which essentially tells Blacks that their behavior is rarely problematic. Thus, again communicating that there is little Blacks can do to achieve success.
Given the problems with DEI training in the workplace, why are so many companies rushing to jump on the DEI bandwagon rather than exploring alternative strategies?
Companies adopt DEI programs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes because they believe in the power of diversity. Sometimes because of outside pressure from activists. And in some cases, fear of legal liability. Corporations began caring more about diversity during the early 2000s and 2010s after high-profile lawsuits in the financial industry cost companies like Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch tens of millions of dollars.
Rather than forcing every industry to “look like America,” why not just let America look like what Americans want it to be?
DEI training is, at best, not working and, at worst, backfiring. We need to come to terms with the idea that what a person does is way more important than the color of that person’s skin. The world is not against people of color; advancing that narrative will only set minorities up for failure. This is an empowering message for everyone.
The sooner those who want diversity start recognizing the power of each person, the sooner we will see minorities embrace their personal agency. Telling people America is against them will never empower anyone.
Millions of Blacks have succeeded in America based on their ability. True diversity and equality will only occur when people have faith that they have the ability and capacity to succeed on their own. So let’s start promoting programs and concepts that exemplify what we want to achieve — rather than focusing on what divides and discourages Americans.