November 28, 2023
As societal discussions around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) become increasingly politicized, a recent report by Paradigm, a leading DEI consulting company, reveals a concerning decline in DEI efforts over the past year. The report, dated September, notes that despite 54 percent of companies maintaining a budget for DEI initiatives, this figure has decreased by 4 points since 2022.
The study, conducted after the Supreme Court’s June ruling against the use of race-conscious admissions in higher education, underscores the challenges faced by DEI initiatives in the current landscape. While the report acknowledges some positive strides, it warns that the overall loss of momentum poses a significant risk in the years ahead.
According to Paradigm’s findings, only 26 percent of companies analyze their hiring practices by race or ethnicity, and merely 31 percent measure by gender. However, the analysis of promotion rates shows slightly better figures, with 33 percent of organizations examining promotion rates by race or ethnicity and 46 percent doing so by gender.
The report emphasizes the importance of collecting such data to identify potential discriminatory practices. Once identified, organizations can implement targeted programs to counteract these practices and promote inclusivity.
However, DEI practices have become increasingly polarizing. The report notes, “External forces are no longer pushing companies to invest in DEI; instead, in some cases, external forces are pushing back on companies’ investment in DEI.”
This division is apparent in recent legislative measures, exemplified by the enactment of a bill by “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,” which bars public colleges and universities in Florida from allocating funds to DEI programs. DeSantis, who is eyeing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, stated, “DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination, and that has no place in our public institutions.”
Despite some companies offering DEI training, the Paradigm report reveals that only 35 percent measure the impact of such training. This finding is particularly noteworthy as human resources leaders within organizations are reportedly de-emphasizing data and analytics.
Paradigm urges companies to prioritize DEI efforts regardless of the political climate. “Regardless of the political climate, companies need data to understand their unique DEI challenges and opportunities and track progress,” the report states. “Going beyond simple representation metrics and regularly looking at data throughout your hiring, promotion, attrition processes — as well as feedback on the employee experience — will help companies craft the right long-term strategies and identify potential issues early.”