The overturning of Affirmative Action hinders efforts to increase racial and ethnic diversity in higher education. Corporate lawyers warn that the Supreme Court rulings and their consequences could soon make diversity efforts more challenging for corporate America, too.
Before the decision, major corporations across industries issued a declaration of support for racial diversity in education, and stressed the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in business. Apple, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, and United Airlines were just a few of the major business enterprises to co-sign the brief, which expressed that racial and ethnic diversity increases creativity, improves performance, and leads to better decision making. The companies have "seen firsthand how racial diversity improves creativity and innovation within their teams," and cited studies on the impact of racial diversity to back up their experiences. Without affirmative action, they said, the job applicant pool coming from American colleges may soon become less diverse.
The latest interpretation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act does not directly apply to private companies, so Republican lawmakers have taken measures to end diversity, equity, and inclusion programs where they can. DEI offices have been terminated or threatened at public colleges in Florida and Texas, the Pentagon, and the House of Representatives.
Donald Harris, Associate Dean and DEI Liaison at Temple University School of Law, warned that business may face consequences for continuing DEI hiring efforts. "There will undoubtedly be lawsuits attacking private firms’ efforts with diversity," Harris said via CNBC. Similarly, Morgan Lewis suggests that the precedent set by the Supreme Court's decision may affect how DEI initiatives are assessed in courts, and advised organizations to re-evaluate their own diversity programs.
But even if their efforts are able to reach corporations, current trends suggest that the court of public opinion can still dictate business decisions. Employees can continue speak out against racial discrimination in the workplace, and put increased pressure on employers to maintain DEI programs.
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