Jul 31, 2023

Companies Are Firing Diversity Officers

Chief diversity officers were a popular hire among large corporations just a few years back – but changing incentives have left the formerly sought-after workers scrambling for jobs.

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Written by Joanna Button

What’s happening: Top companies like Netflix and Disney are firing their chief diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) executives, and employment data show demand for diversity work plummeting. After the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, corporate efforts to promote DEI ideology were seemingly everywhere. The shift seems to be the result of both budget cuts and a shifting cultural and political landscape.

The politics: As Republican lawmakers push back against DEI ideology in academia, conservatives are boycotting companies that make progressive political statements. The massive boycotts of Disney, Bud Light, and Target — all in response to these corporations’ attempts to appear “inclusive” to the LGBT population — are fueling worry among top executives.

The law: Corporations also worry that last month’s Supreme Court decision to strike down affirmative action in higher education could prompt legal action against race-based hiring practices — a byproduct of diversity programs.

The money: Several U.S. industries have experienced major layoffs in 2023, with the biggest tech companies firing tens of thousands of employees to cut costs as revenue growth slowed. Nonessential hires like diversity employees are most susceptible – thousands of diversity-focused workers have been laid off since last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

  • In academia: Top DEI positions at public universities brought in six-figure salaries, and some universities had over 150 employees in the DEI departments. Some top-ranking DEI positions would bring in as much as $430,000, raking in more than four times the salary of some professors.
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