August 7, 2023

In Brief: Conservatives Take Scalps in the Culture War

Is the reduction in DEI positions in corporate America a sign that wokeness has crested?

Not long ago, we rather gleefully noted that DEI is falling out of favor in many corporations. Others are taking note, as well. Gage Klipper writes for The Daily Caller:

The cottage industry built around Diversity, Equity, Inclusive (DEI) seems to have crashed almost as quickly as it went up, The Wall Street Journal reported. While left-wing grifters made a good run of their dominance over America’s C-suite, their influence was never going to last. Their premises are too faulty and un-American; their prescriptions too radical and alienating — if something can’t go on forever, it won’t.

Conservatives are rightly cheering the development, with some even going so far as to take credit for delegitimizing the corporate training programs that indict America as a racist empire and divide workers into victim and oppressor. Yet it’s unclear if this is the major victory conservatives wish it to be. Is this a sign that wokeness in the workplace — and American culture more broadly — has finally crested?

He points to the same Wall Street Journal report that caught our eye. It tells of numerous major companies that, for the first time since the explosion of DEI positions post 2020, are actually cutting those positions back. Klipper says the Journal gave two reasons:

On the one hand, companies are less interested in hiring for the position. One executive recruitment expert told the WSJ that, “Demand [for CDOs] is the lowest he has seen in his 30 years of recruiting.” For companies who are hiring, they want CDOs who can help mitigate the anticipated “spillover legal action” from the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action decision rather than just champion feel-good policies.

On the other hand, “on-the-job obstruction” has left DEI workers disillusioned with their roles. A survey of diversity executives revealed a year-on-year drop in their perceived middle-management support and influence needed to accomplish their job. As lay-offs loom, many former CDOs say the only way they would “go into another role with DEI is if it includes something else.”

In other words, supply and demand for DEI is out of whack.

Yet Klipper rightly argues that the Journal’s economic focus “overlooks the deeper cultural issues at play.”

Perhaps it is, at root, an economic issue as it becomes increasingly clear that diversity, for both employer and employee, is about the bottom line. As DEI initiatives become a potential liability rather than a cheap virtue signal, companies are looking to shift the paradigm. As left-wing activists see their prestige begin to wane, they must move onto a new graft. …

But it also speaks to the issue of susceptibility — a rot in the civic culture of corporate America that ever allowed itself to be captured by such an un-American ideology in the first place. Companies are tightening their belts at the moment, but if and when DEI profitability calculations change, they will surely embrace it once again. America is perpetually one bad police incident (or one presidential election) away from corporations’ total recapitulation to leftist agitators.

Nevertheless, cultural battles work.

Conservative pressure likely played a role in shifting the culture away from its embrace of DEI. Anti-critical theory activists like Chris Rufo have helped re-shaped the way America thinks about these programs. While the left for years was able to institutionalize DEI as neutral training programs, Rufo’s work has helped expose their Marxist roots and motivations.

The result is that countless people now recognize how political corporate America has become, and they are not willing to let it continue. Brands like Bud Light, Target, and Disney are likely to be permanently tarnished over their diversity stunts. This is perhaps part of the reason why diversity executives felt they had waning influence and support.

He concludes:

While it is too soon to tell what the purge of CDOs means for American society long-term, a win is a win. Every unemployed diversity officer is a step towards a freer and more united America.

Read the whole thing here.

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