Posted on September 22, 2023

Companies That Rushed to Create DEI Initiatives in 2020 Are Likelier to Backtrack on Their Commitments

Paige McGlauflin and Joseph Abrams, Fortune, September 13, 2023


Companies that hastened to create a DEI program during the 2020 racial justice protests may be most susceptible to backtracking on those commitments today.

“In the wake of the racial reckoning of 2020, a lot of companies were very reactive…We had an ‘oh, crap’ moment in corporate America,” Brian Tippens, Cisco’s senior vice president and chief social impact officer, said on day one of the Fortune Impact Initiative in Atlanta. Three years later, these companies are “ditching” their diversity commitments after failing to embed DEI into their business. According to a February report from Revelio Labs, more than 300 DEI roles were impacted by layoffs at major organizations in the last half of 2022—the highest of any function.

“If a company can do away with the D&I officers because it didn’t add business value, well, that’s a problem, right?” said Tippens. “The situation wasn’t set up in such a way that the D&I leader was adding business value through metrics [such as] satisfying our customers or satisfying our team members.”

Tippens advised leaders to focus on the “three Cs of diversity:” compliance, corporate social responsibility, and competitive advantage. {snip}