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Why Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are invaluable to a supportive and successful society

Why Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are invaluable to a supportive and successful society

Why Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are invaluable to a supportive and successful society
February 24
13:00 2023

In a recent memo Gov. Greg Abbott’s office sent, the chief of staff Gardner Pate warned state agencies and public universities that the use of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives during hiring processes is illegal.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion and national origin. Gov. Abbott’s office grossly mischaracterizes DEI initiatives in an attempt to stop what they call “woke” ideologies and scare organizations into ending DEI. Contrary to what Abbott claims, DEI initiatives do not discriminate and are helpful to companies, organizations and institutions. 

DEI initiatives are policies and strategies used by companies, organizations and universities to establish awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Diversity is the concept of a varied and wide-ranging group of people within a community or population. Equity is the fair treatment, access and opportunity for all individuals, while inclusion involves creating a culture of acceptance and making everyone feel heard. Each component works together to create DEI.

In the memo obtained by The Texas Tribune, Pate told agencies that DEI policies violate federal and state employment laws and hiring cannot be based on factors other than merit. Though Pate said that DEI initiatives illegally discriminate against certain demographic groups, Pate failed to specify which demographic the initiatives targeted.

By bringing into question the DEI initiative’s legality, Pate misconstrues and ignores DEI’s overall purpose and implementation. When implemented correctly, DEI initiatives are not illegal. Effective DEI initiatives do not discriminate and follow the law closely.

In regards to hiring, DEI initiatives simply work in tandem with laws to encourage companies to solicit applications from a wide range of diverse applicants — which is legal and very beneficial to the company, as explained by Andrew Eckhous, a lawyer for the Kaplan Law Firm in Austin. 

DEI initiatives are intended to foster an inclusive environment, emphasizing fair treatment and open-mindedness. DEI is not meant to ignore anti-discrimination laws, despite how much Pate and other conservatives say it does. 

The way organizations go about creating and implementing DEI initiatives varies, as explained by Insight Global, a staffing and hiring agency. There is no one way to create a DEI strategy — organizations must first assess the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations. Then, they identify areas that need improvement, where action plans must be developed and concrete goals should be set.

Then comes the implementation, which can range from setting diversity goals to encouraging diverse referrals from employees, running hiring campaigns to bring in diverse candidates, implementing inclusivity training and other methods.

In universities, DEI initiatives can focus on providing resources to underrepresented groups and creating programs to teach the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. DEI initiatives allow employers to bring in a wide range of perspectives and experiences which can lead to more innovative thinking. 

Diverse and inclusive businesses outperform homogeneous competitors in innovation, employee retention, talent recruitment and profit, according to the United States Chamber of Commerce. In a 2019 analysis by Mckinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability. 

Creating inclusive and welcoming environments can help better retention within organizations and aid in better recruitment. In a CNBC survey of 8,233 employed adults across America, almost 80 percent said they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Certain conservative individuals argue that DEI initiatives can lead to unfair treatment of white people within institutions and workplaces. Self-titled conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute, even published a legislative roadmap for abolishing DEI bureaucracies, with the goal of restoring “colorblind equality in public universities.”

While these concerns are somewhat coherent — and companies with the goal of adhering to DEI initiatives could make the mistake of prioritizing diversity over merit during the hiring process — well-executed DEI initiatives prevent this from happening by not requiring a certain number of individuals from one race, sexuality, gender or background to be hired.

Furthermore, DEI initiatives don’t mistreat or disregard white people, but instead create a company culture of creativity, fresh perspectives and understanding. It allows people of all backgrounds to be comfortable in the workplace and ensures fair treatment. 

Though some people believe DEI initiatives are an unneeded liberal practice, many institutions believe otherwise. To hundreds of companies, organizations and universities, DEI provides necessary tools and creates policies that ensure people are valued, welcomed and respected. 

Featured Illustration by Isabella Alva

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Alfred Dozier

Alfred Dozier

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