Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have gained remarkable traction in recent decades. In the final third of the 20th century, DEI was effectively dominated by and focused exclusively on affirmative action—the idea that employee racial and gender demographics should more or less match the population-level demographics. It didn’t necessarily matter whether women and people of color were fairly represented in the upper echelons of organizations or simply filled entry level positions; and the idea of inclusion was a step beyond diversity than many hadn’t even considered.
DEI Efforts Common Across Organizations
Today, the situation is dramatically different. DEI efforts are increasingly prominent among employers of all sizes, and especially larger employers, where higher staffing needs create greater opportunities for diversity and where corporate budgets provide more resources to implement DEI efforts. This is so much so, in fact, that every one of the nation’s 100 largest companies now has some form of DEI policy.
“I have surveyed the programming of every Fortune 100 company and have confirmed that all of them have now adopted so-called DEI programs,” writes Christopher Rufo in an article for City Journal. “These initiatives are no longer limited to high-technology firms in the coastal enclaves; they have spread to traditionally conservative sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, and oil and gas. The result is clear: every major corporation in the United States has submitted to DEI ideology and begun to make it a permanent part of their legal and human resources bureaucracies.”
DEI Programs Make (an Important) Difference
Rufo’s article is an opinion piece largely dismissive or even openly hostile to DEI efforts, but his core claim that DEI programs are universal among the Fortune 100 is valid, and even critics such as Rufo acknowledge DEI efforts are firmly established in Corporate America.
Employees have come to expect such programs, particularly younger workers who are on the leading edge of an increasingly diverse America. These young workers often hail from traditionally marginalized groups themselves or grew up with close friends or family among such groups, and they recognize and value the benefit of a diverse and inclusive workplace.