Horace Cooper: Diversity Programs Add Division, Not Value, to Workplaces

On the Scripps News program “The Why,” Project 21 Chairman Horace Cooper explained why diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs are destructive to businesses:

I refer to it as D-I-E instead of DEI because it’s a killer in the workplace.

Last year there was a significant drop in the number of hirings. But since then, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are both reporting a very very aggressive firing effort, where people who are incumbent DEI officers are being removed. This tells us that these employees add little to no value to the company.

We’re in the middle of significant and nearly unprecedented inflation…. Companies therefore must reduce unnecessary expenditures. And they are telling us that these individuals don’t add value…

When you bring on these kinds of workers that add to the cost rather than lowering the cost, black American households are likely to be the hardest hit….

If companies are laying people off, it’s because companies have to lower costs. And they start with the things that are not adding value. They start with the things that are not increasing efficiencies. These roles do not add efficiencies. In fact, they create some division. They cause the workforce to be divided in a way that it normally wouldn’t be….

So if DEI policies aren’t the answer, host Lauren Magarino wanted to know how we can make workforces look more like the general population.  Horace responded:

Growing and vibrant economies create the best opportunity for black Americans. We need to do a better job with our secondary education, our primary education. Our people need to be equipped at early stages in their life, and they can compete…. It’s incumbent upon EVERYONE to become as talented, creative and advantageously marketed because of their skill set.

That has nothing to do with race, but DEI unfortunately focuses on the end result and not on the inputs.

Corporate DEI policies are a primary focus right now here at the National Center, as our Free Enterprise Project (FEP) is fighting back on this issue in the form of shareholder proposals and proxy voting.

Just this week, at the shareholder meetings of Bristol Myers Squibb, UPS and Kraft Heinz, FEP has proposals to address discriminatory DEI policies and the impacts of discriminatory policies on merit-based hiring and promotion.

Ethan Peck

Ethan Peck

“Under the guise of ESG, many companies — including Bristol Myers Squibb — have adopted DEI programs that seek to establish racial and social ‘equity,’ but in practice what ‘equity’ really means is the distribution of pay and authority on the basis of race, sex, orientation and ethnicity rather than by merit,” said FEP Associate Ethan Peck. “Where adopted, these practices create massive reputational, legal and financial risk. If the Company is committing illegal or unconscionable discrimination against employees deemed ‘non-diverse,’ then the Company will suffer in myriad ways — all of them both unforgivable and avoidable.”

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