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Why Are People Opposed to DEI?



You know, there's this recurring critique of DEI work and CRT, claiming it creates division rather than bringing people together. But let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture. By delving into the historical and contemporary manifestations of racism and discrimination, DEI work can indeed reveal deeply rooted issues. I get it, though; it can be uncomfortable to confront the privilege and biases that may be present in individuals and institutions. But guess what? Acknowledging these issues is the first step towards genuine change and building a more inclusive society. So, instead of causing division, DEI work aims to bridge gaps and foster understanding between different communities.



Why is DEI under attack?


Now, you might be wondering, "Why the attack on DEI? And why are DEI jobs disappearing?" Well, there are a few reasons floating around. Some individuals and groups may resist DEI efforts because they perceive them as threats to their existing power structures or as attempts to promote "reverse discrimination." Others may believe that DEI initiatives prioritize identity-based factors over individual merit, leading to concerns about lowered standards or unfair advantages. Additionally, some critics argue that DEI measures could stifle free speech and create a culture of political correctness. But one can also say banning CRT does the same thing.


Recently we’ve had news in corporate Canada of the Bilkszto and Ojo-Thompson case that has conveniently planted the seed that not all DEI work is good. It's an interesting example that highlights the challenges involved in addressing race and diversity issues in the workplace. In this individual case, Bilkszto claimed to have suffered workplace bullying after a diversity training session, leading to severe emotional distress. Now, none of us know the intimate details of this man’s mental health, yet mainstream media jumped at the chance to discredit the diversity firm for his senseless death instead of investigating the individual.


While this case does point out the need for sensitivity and respect during diversity training, we can't use it as a scapegoat to discredit the broader DEI efforts and successes. We need to look at the bigger picture and focus on dismantling the systemic issues that DEI seeks to tackle. By ensuring respectful discussions prevail, we can continue to improve individuals' ability to sincerely communicate their belief systems, examine their biases and learn from these cross-cultural experiences. Only by examining the broader context of racial disparities and inequality in society and companies can we improve the way diversity training is conducted.



PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: MELINDA STARBIRD, CHERYL RICHARD, YELP

Why are DEI Jobs Disappearing Now?


Speaking of disappearing DEI jobs, there could be several reasons behind it. Some organizations might have created DEI positions as a knee-jerk reaction to external pressure or specific issues. But for those who took a "check-the-box" approach without committing to real change, well, their DEI jobs sadly didn't stand the test of time. As the landscape of an organization changes or external priorities shift, they might choose to redistribute resources or focus on other areas. And you know, it's disheartening to see folks thinking that DEI initiatives have already achieved their goals because, hey, there are some successful Black people out there. But let's face the facts: the fight against systemic racism and discrimination is far from over when we look at the statistics. This disappearing act raises concerns about the depth of commitment from organizations and whether diversity efforts have been merely performative instead of transformative.



What is the war on DEI?


So, here we are, facing this "war on DEI." It's all about the resistance, opposition, and criticism faced by diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Concerns about reverse discrimination, the potential for lowering standards to achieve diversity targets, the belief that merit should be the sole basis for hiring and promotions, and the notion that focusing on identity-based factors could perpetuate division rather than unity are real!


People have different viewpoints, and that's okay. We need to have open, respectful, and constructive discussions to understand each other better. And even after those we will not always agree because we have different lived experiences, and that is completely normal. But this is the way we will gain a more nuanced understanding of the challenges we face as a society. Only through genuine dialogue and a commitment to addressing systemic inequalities can we collectively work towards uncovering values that we all agree upon and ideally a moral code that upholds the rights and freedoms of everyone.


What do you think? Is the decline of DEI jobs a sign of progress or a disheartening regression? And in cases like Bilkszto and Ojo-Thompson, are they learning opportunities or just distractions from the broader goals of DEI? Join the conversation and share your insights to help shed light on these complex issues and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all.


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