Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives are not entirely new. The recent demand for social justice resulted in DE&I becoming hyper-focused. In response to calls for change, leaders in every sector have been carefully reviewing their organizations and reflecting on if they really are contributing to DE&I efforts within the organization and the communities they directly effect.
Evidence shows there’s much work to be done. For instance, a 2016 SHRM research report forecasted that one out of every two new workers entering the workforce by 2025 will be Hispanic. But a December 2020 report from the Economic Policy Institute explained that Hispanic workers were “least likely to be able to work from home and most likely to have lost their job during the COVID-19 recession.” In 2019, 63% of C-level jobs were comprised of white men, while women of color only accounted for 4%. A January 2020 Gartner study revealed that only 40% of employees believed their supervisors foster a workplace that is equitable and inclusive.
Recent DE&I Responses from Corporate America
With the recent push for more DE&I efforts, Corporate America has made some attempts to concentrate on moving DE&I initiatives forward. Some of those attempts include the following:
- Netflix: Netflix created the “Netflix Fund for Creative Equity.” The fund dedicates $100 million over the next five years to support organizations that connect underrepresented communities with jobs in the television and film industries.
- CBS: CBS announced that their reality shows moving forward would feature at least 50% Black casts, following many years of criticism with how its flagship shows have dealt with issues of race.
- Starbucks: On January 2021 Starbucks announced they would expand on their 2019 commitment to invest $10 million in four Chicago-based CDFIs, by launching the Starbucks Community Resiliency Fund. By 2025 the Starbucks Community Resiliency Fund will invest $100 million to advance racial equity and environmental resilience by supporting small businesses and community development projects in neighborhoods with historically limited access to capital.
- Citi: Since 2014, the Citi Foundation (Citi’s philanthropic section) has invested approximately $200 million in their Pathways to Progress program – a program designed to give workforce training, career advice, and mentorship opportunities to young people from marginalized backgrounds. In September 2020 Citi and Citi Foundation announced that they plan to expand the program, expecting to cumulatively impact over a million young people around the world with a total investment of $300 million.
Federal Initiatives for DE&I
Corporate America is not the only group that has made recent moves in the DE&I space. We’ve also seen some recent adjustments on the Federal level:
- Juneteenth: President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday. June 19, 1866 marked the first anniversary of the day that African Americans in Galveston, TX first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation (nearly two years after it was initially issued). It is widely accepted as the celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States.
- Federal Expansion of DE&I Advancement: on June 25, 2021, President Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order to strengthen and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the federal government.
- Age Discrimination: On June 23, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would make it easier for people to make claims alleging age discrimination in the workplace. This bill contradicts a 2009 Supreme Court decision (Gross v. FBL Financial Services) which held that people asserting age discrimination claims must prove that age discrimination was the decisive factor in an employment decision. The new legislation establishes that workers alleging age discrimination only have to demonstrate that age was a motivating factor…even if other factors were involved.
Some feel that some of these public-facing efforts in Corporate America and in the U.S. Government are not genuine movements for change, and are instead a façade for good publicity. While these efforts are wonderful to see, it is equally important that organizations make sure these efforts match internal practices and evolve workplace culture to truly foster diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Has your organization made efforts to demonstrate support for DE&I initiatives? Have these initiatives been more public-facing, or more internal workplace culture-related? Please share your thoughts and ideas in our comment box below!