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Hamstrung by ‘golden handcuffs’: Diversity roles disappear 3 years after George Floyd's murder

The diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders that were hired in waves to assist companies in creating ethnically balanced workforces after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 are being phased out, according to surveys. It's just empty rhetoric, say experts in the field, that corporations talk about affecting change.

In 2020, the Society for Human Resource Management reported an increase in DEI roles of 55% following Floyd's murder. DEI professionals, however, are losing their jobs as layoffs across the economy have accelerated rather than facilitating fair opportunities and welcoming work culture for Black employees.

At the end of 2022, DEI roles declined at a rate of 33%, compared to 21% for non-DEI roles. Based on data analyzed by Revelio Labs, a New York-based company that analyzes workforce dynamics and trends, Amazon, Applebee's, and Twitter have led the way with DEI layoffs since July 2022.

In another survey, only 3.8% of chief diversity officers were African-American, with whites accounting for 76.1%. Latinos and Asians account for 7.8% and 7.7%, respectively.

According to Revelio Labs economist Reyhan Ayas, who surveyed DEI layoffs, the pledges to impact change didn't follow through. "I always say that it is so easy to make public statements and commitments because no one will eventually check if you're committed to the things that you committed to," she said. "I can say: 'I will be fully vegan by 2025' because no one will ever call me in 2025 and ask me if I'm actually fully vegan. And that's really what is going on here. In 2020, a lot of companies made big commitments, big statements around the DEI roles and goals. And as we are observing a turning of that tide, I think it's very timely that we actually look into companies to see if they have kept up with those big statements they made."

As Nika White, author of "Inclusion Uncomplicated," points out, the studies also show "the harsh reality" of many companies' commitments to diversity. "This is very disheartening, especially after so many of us were hopeful after George Floyd's murder that organization leaders would be sensitized and committed to equity and inclusion."

The grandiose gestures that so many companies and corporations made in the wake of George Floyd's murder attest to the superficial and flippant understanding of structural racism in the public sector and overall workplace and the importance of intentional and rectifying DEI initiatives that make a real impact.

Source: NBC News


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