(TheProudRepublic.com) – Underscoring a combination of economic constraints and shifting legal and public landscapes, American organizations are steering clear from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, leading to a significant decline in momentum and financial support in 2023, as reported by consulting firm Paradigm.
The reduction in commitment to DEI initiatives is evident in the data: the percentage of U.S. organizations with a dedicated DEI budget fell from 58% in 2022 to 54% in 2023, and those with a DEI strategy decreased by nine percentage points in the same period.
This trend marks a significant shift from the surge in DEI activities that followed the death of George Floyd when many companies reallocated resources towards these initiatives. However, “external forces,” such as economic tightening and increasing judicial and public pressure, are now influencing a pullback in these efforts.
Despite this overall decline, there was a 6-point increase in companies appointing a senior DEI leader and an 8-point rise in organizations setting representation goals for women in leadership between 2022 and 2023.
Additionally, 20% of companies in 2023 established goals to enhance employment based on race or ethnicity, a 4-point increase from the previous year.
This retreat in DEI commitment aligns with concerns regarding potential Supreme Court actions. Companies are apprehensive that the Court might apply the same scrutiny to race-based hiring practices as it did to race-based college admissions earlier in the year.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled against using race as a factor in college admissions, per the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
Paradigm’s report also indicates a shift in HR leaders’ strategies, with many de-emphasizing data and analytics in their DEI efforts, responding to the changing legal context and heightened scrutiny.
In terms of broader economic trends, there has been a pullback in hiring. October saw only 150,000 new jobs added, a decrease from 297,000 in September, and unemployment increased to 3.9% from 3.8%.
Predictions for the U.S. economy in 2024 are modest, with the Leading Economic Index forecasting only a 0.8% growth, potentially due to a looming recession.