Race & Politics

Black executives urge CEOs to keep investing in diversity programs despite Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A group of prominent Black executives has issued an open letter to the nation’s CEOs urging them to commit to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives despite the Supreme Court’s recent decision ending affirmative action. 

The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a global organization of more than 800 global Black executives, told American CEOs that the Supreme Court’s decision should not affect their efforts to implement DEI practices. 

“From your employees, to your supply chain and the customers and communities you impact, it is critical that you continue to use DEI as it was intended, as a mechanism for creating an inclusive culture,” the ELC said. “Initiatives can include providing economic opportunity by expanding your recruiting efforts, connecting all leaders to your culture through employee resource groups, and providing interview training to reduce biases. In doing so, you can serve and contribute to the success of your organization.”

Though it is illegal for corporations to make any hiring and firing decisions based on race, advocates have expressed concern that the court’s ruling to ban race-conscious admissions in higher education could negatively impact DEI programs in the workforce. 

Even before the Supreme Court’s ruling, DEI initiatives have come under fire in many Republican-led states. This year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also campaigning for president, signed a bill into law banning his state’s public colleges and universities from allocating money on DEI programs.

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott followed DeSantis’s lead soon after, signing a bill banning DEI offices at public colleges and universities. The bill also banned mandatory diversity training for students and employees.

In all, 22 states this year have introduced anti-DEI legislation, though not all have passed, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Meanwhile, one provision in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act eliminates DEI programs and staff in the Defense Department. 

But the ELC is urging business leaders to continue diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

“While the recent SCOTUS ruling overturned affirmative action in higher education, it does not impede you from continuing to exert successful practices that serve and advance your efforts today,” the group wrote.

“The common thread that we can all build on is that we are all Americans who want to create the best future for our country,” the letter continues. “The research clearly shows that when we establish more inclusive and diverse environments, our corporate structures and communities thrive and are more economically sound.”

Inclusive companies are more likely to hit financial targets by up to 120 percent, according to Forbes. Companies can also reach a more diverse audience with a more diverse workforce, and studies also show that diverse organizations innovate at a faster rate.

“We must seek to abolish these negative narratives that are intended to set us back and instead embrace the diversity of our country so that everyone wins,” ELC said. “Now is not the time to retreat, but to boldly stand as we advance equitable opportunities for all and continue to build a strong and flourishing economy.”

Tags affirmative action biden administration Black Americans Business DEI Donald Trump economy Economy of the United States Executive Leadership Council Joe Biden Politics Politics of the United States Ron DeSantis Supreme Court

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