Increased attacks on corporate diversity programs following Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling

Increased attacks on corporate diversity programs following Supreme Court's affirmative action ruling

The Unraveling of DEI Programs: The Aftermath of the Supreme Court Decision

Supreme Court Decision

Just six weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned affirmative action, shaking the foundations of race-based decisions in college admissions. Now, the repercussions on corporate diversity programs that DEI experts feared are unfolding faster than anticipated. The attack on these programs has gained momentum, and companies across the country are starting to face legal consequences.

In mid-July, 13 Republican attorneys general sent a letter to the CEOs of ANBLE 100 companies, cautioning against considering race as a factor in hiring and employment practices. They emphasized that the Supreme Court’s decision in June could also apply to employers. Shortly after, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton sent a similar letter to major law firms. This concerted effort by political figures signifies a growing opposition to the use of race in decision-making processes.

In a surprising twist, the same group that brought the affirmative action case to the Supreme Court has now filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta-based Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm backing Black women entrepreneurs. The lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, further intensifying the scrutiny on diversity initiatives. Additionally, companies like Amazon and Starbucks are already facing lawsuits challenging their diversity programs, though these suits were filed before the Court’s decision.

The aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling has left employers scrambling to assess the implications for their own DEI initiatives and broader human capital strategy. Tina Shah Paikeday, the global head of Russell Reynolds Associates’ DEI practice, advises companies to stay ahead of potential litigation. The swift pace of this issue necessitates quick action and adaptability from companies operating in this space.

Experts advise HR leaders to work closely with legal counsel and be vigilant in how they communicate diversity efforts internally. Accurate information from attorneys and clear communication to workers regarding program goals, intentions, and compliance with existing law are crucial aspects. Katy Youker, director for the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stresses the importance of effectively conveying the purpose and workings of diversity programs to address any potential complaints.

Moving forward, companies are encouraged to explore alternative ways to support DEI initiatives. Russell Reynolds recommends a shift towards equity-focused strategies that provide equal opportunities and fairness for everyone. Employers can also emphasize the business benefits of diversity programs, such as fostering diverse perspectives, creativity, and risk mitigation. However, it is essential to proactively address any challenges or complaints that may arise and take defensive steps to minimize potential risks.

While navigating the changing landscape, it is crucial for employers to avoid backtracking on diversity commitments, as some have started to do. Undoing existing diversity commitments can have legal ramifications, as the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in June does not extend to employment civil rights law. Such backpedaling could expose employers to legal risks from minority groups who rely on corporate diversity initiatives.

The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are far-reaching and demand careful consideration. Employers must recognize the urgency and potential consequences of these changes. By proactively adjusting their DEI initiatives, seeking legal guidance, and effectively communicating their goals internally, companies can navigate these turbulent times while upholding their commitment to diversity and inclusion.


Job-Hopping Epidemic: A Headache for Employers

Job-hopping has become increasingly common among Gen Z and younger millennial professionals, creating a headache for employers and HR teams. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 22% of workers over 20 spent a year or less at their jobs in 2022, the highest percentage since 2006. This trend poses challenges for hiring managers, with 77% naming job-hopping as their top concern when evaluating resumes.

Jeff Hyman, CEO of Recruit Rockstars, describes the situation as worsening over time, causing frustration for human resources executives who hope for improvement. As young professionals continually switch jobs, employers need to find ways to retain and attract talent in the face of this rampant job-hopping trend.


Around the Table: HR Headlines

  • Beware of “loud laborers”: Insider warns employers of employees who talk more about work than actually doing it, highlighting the importance of productivity and performance.
  • Sabbaticals for burnout: PayPal and Adobe are offering paid month-long breaks after five years on the job to combat burnout among employees.
  • Alternative therapies for mental health: At least 50 companies now cover alternative therapies like ketamine and psilocybin therapy for employees with mental health issues, recognizing the value of holistic approaches to well-being.

Watercooler: ANBLE Highlights

  • Roe reverberates: Companies that promised to pay for abortion-related travel costs experienced increased job applications, but their employees in typically male-dominated roles viewed the company less favorably.
  • Trash talking: Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers union, expressed his dissatisfaction with a wage hike offer from Stellantis by literally throwing it in the trash, fueling ongoing negotiations between the union and the manufacturer of Jeeps.
  • Retirement drain: A concerning number of employees have been forced to withdraw funds from their 401(k) retirement accounts due to financial constraints, highlighting the impact of personal economic stress on long-term financial planning.

In conclusion, the recent Supreme Court decision overturning affirmative action has set off a chain reaction in the corporate world, with diversity programs being challenged and legal consequences becoming a reality. Employers must stay ahead of the curve by seeking legal guidance, communicating diversity efforts effectively, and finding alternative ways to support DEI initiatives. Furthermore, the rising trend of job-hopping presents challenges for employers, who must find strategies to retain and attract talent. As the landscape continues to shift, HR professionals need to stay informed about relevant news and trends to navigate these evolving challenges successfully.