Leaders of diversity, equity and inclusion who were hired to help companies achieve an ethnically balanced workforce after the killing of George Floyd in 2020 are being phased out, surveys indicate is, except to experts in the field that talk of corporations effecting change was just empty words.
The Society for Human Resource Management reported in 2020 that the DEI’s role increased by 55% following demands for broader racial equality and justice following Floyd’s killing. DEI professionals are losing their jobs as layoffs accelerate in the economy.
The attrition rate for DEI roles at the end of 2022 was 33%, compared to 21% for non-DEI roles. Amazon, Applebees and Twitter are moving forward with DEI layoffs through July 2022, according to Revelio Labs, a New York-based company that uses data to analyze workforce dynamics and trends.
Another survey showed that black employees represent only 3.8% of chief diversity officers overall, with whites holding 76.1% of the role. People of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity make up 7.8% and people of Asian ethnicity make up 7.7%
Rehan Ayas, a senior economist at Revelio Labs who surveyed DEI layoffs, said the data showed that pledges to effect change were not followed by actual effort.
“I always say that it is so easy to make public statements and commitments because no one will ultimately check whether you are committed to the things you are committed to,” she said. “I can say: ‘I will be completely vegetarian by 2025’ because no one will call me in 2025 and ask me if I am really completely vegetarian. And that’s really what’s happening here. 2020 In the U.S., a lot of companies made big commitments, made big statements about the roles and goals of DEI. And as we look at the turning of that tide, I think it’s very timely that we actually see companies Watch to see if he maintains the big statements he made.
DEI professional Nika White, author of the book “Inclusion Uncomplicated,” said the studies also reveal the “harsh reality” of many companies’ commitments to diversity. “It is very disappointing, especially after the killing of George Floyd that many of us expected the leaders of the organization to be sensitive and committed to equity and inclusion.”
But the opposite happened. Ravelio Labs’ 2023 report on the state of DEI and the impact of last year’s layoffs found that DEI-focused roles “experienced a churn rate of nearly 40% at companies engaged in layoffs, compared to about 24% for non-DEI roles.” Are. ”
The surprising absence of black people in chief diversity officer roles at companies baffles DEI professionals.
“It is a role that is essential to advocating and furthering progress for underrepresented talent in these organizations,” said Wade Hinton, founder of the DEI firm, Hinton & Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “And so, you want to make sure it reflects the diversity of our communities and this country, and it’s clear that we have to work on that.”
Together, the study means something more to Chris Metzler, senior vice president, corporate DEI and environmental, social and governance strategies at the National Urban League. He said that the influx of DEI officer appointments in 2020 was topsy-turvy and the posts have been left largely toothless.
“Most of your diversity professionals at these companies report to human resources, which are led by white women and, in some cases, white men,” she said. “So, it doesn’t surprise me that black diversity officers . . . are being taken out. It’s fast becoming a dead-end job. Going back to checking the box for hiring and keeping qualified employees who effect change in the company.
Tai Robinson, a human resources professional in Houston, said the value of Black DEI officers could be significant if given in-house support because they are specially trained for the role. “When a white human resources person listens to African Americans voice their concerns,” she said, “they may sound like complaints, although they are just concerns. And that’s a problem.
Some in the field say that two other concerns helped make DEI positions expendable: a lack of support from higher-ups and hiring employees who have little or no ability to perform this specialized job. No experience.
Robinson said, “Many of these people were getting such good pay.” “But in reality, they were wearing golden handcuffs, unable to do much because the leaders of the organization didn’t want to do much.”
Metzler agreed, saying that without support, DEI executives are set up to fail.
“He has the title; They don’t have rights. In some cases, they don’t have a budget, so it’s difficult to navigate that terrain,” he said.
“There is a value proposition for this work. It is an important job that requires trained professionals,” Metzler said. “It’s time to reimagine the details of organizations and hire the right people for these positions and not just fill a position with someone who has no idea where to start.”
Metzler insists that the focus must shift from DEI to an environmental, social and governance strategy, which has three pillars: how the company’s practices affect the environment; social consequences of the company’s performance; and governance over the decisions of an organization and the impact of those decisions.
“ESG is the way forward,” he said. “We’re still in that old, affirmative action, equal employment opportunity definition of diversity, which is part of the reason why we’re not growing in any significant way.”
Still, while troubled by the drop-off of DEI executives, Hinton said he’s encouraged that the trend can be reversed.
“I’m optimistic because I consult with clients every day,” he said. “I know firsthand that there are organizations that really want to see progress. But collectively we have to make sure that we are encouraging those organizations to partner with them to take this work forward. encourage them to work.”