Posted on August 5, 2022

College Affirmative Action Policies Backed by Major Companies

Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2022

Dozens of major companies have asked the Supreme Court to affirm the use of racial preferences in college admissions, arguing that more diversity on campuses contributes both to commercial innovation and business success.

“Empirical studies confirm that diverse groups make better decisions thanks to increased creativity, sharing of ideas, and accuracy. And diverse groups can better understand and serve the increasingly diverse population that uses their products and services,” more than 60 companies said in one friend-of-the court brief on Monday, citing a range of research. “These benefits are not simply intangible; they translate into businesses’ bottom lines.”

Signatories to the brief titled, “major American business enterprises,” included tech companies such as Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit; manufacturers including Corning Inc. and General Motors Co., pharma and biotech companies and transportation operators such as American Airlines Group Inc. and Lyft Inc. The brief cited reports published by journals including the Academy of Management Journal, Corporate Governance, and the Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting.

Other companies joined separate briefs supporting the colleges. No businesses filed briefs opposed to the university policies.

The Supreme Court is slated in its next term to hear separate cases challenging admissions practices at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, private and public institutions that consider race when evaluating applicants. Admission to both universities is competitive: Harvard, the country’s oldest college, accepted 3.19% of 61,220 applicants for the class of 2026; UNC, the state’s flagship, reported an in-state acceptance rate of 42.2% and 10.5% for out-of-state students among 53,775 applications for fall 2021.

A group backed by former stockbroker Edward Blum, Students for Fair Admissions, sued Harvard and UNC alleging that their consideration of race violates constitutional equal-protection provisions. In particular, the plaintiffs allege that admissions policies provide unfair advantages to Black, Hispanic and Native American applicants over their white and Asian American counterparts.


Affirmative action in admissions has returned repeatedly to the Supreme Court since 1978, when in the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the court found a compelling government interest in promoting racial diversity and allowed consideration of race so long as it wasn’t through a rigid quota or hard numerical benefit.

In a 2003 decision affirming race-conscious admissions to the University of Michigan Law School, the court specifically cited briefs by major businesses attesting to the importance of diversity in the workplace.