The DEI Dilemma: Fair or Unfair?

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Affirmative Action in the summer of 2023, all eyes have been turned to DEI, otherwise known as diversity, equity, and inclusion, a practice used in college admissions and corporate hirings in which a candidate’s background is evaluated along with their qualifications. Similar to Affirmative Action, DEI promotes equal opportunity for minorities in the educational space and workplace. “Diversity” refers to the inclusion of people from all different races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabilities, and religions. “Equity” points to the fair practices and policies that guarantee equality for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds. And “inclusion” is about the community itself, and the sense of respect and belonging that is entitled to each individual. First originating during the 1960’s, DEI has since grown to encompass various aspects of American society. Over the decades, it has gradually been installed in university acceptance and corporate hiring practices, and most US states have adopted the policy. However, in recent years, many states like Texas and Florida have passed and enacted anti-DEI laws, prohibiting the consideration of an individual’s race, ethnicity, or gender during their evaluation. Around eight other states have passed an anti-DEI bill in at least one chamber, and twenty others have had such a bill introduced.

The passing of acts banning DEI have affected the overall diversity of communities in the workplace and the education space. The signing of laws by Governor Greg Abbott abolishing DEI in Texas have led to an immense impact own the minorities of the state. As the sixth most diverse US state with the highest population of African Americans in the country, Texas’ minorities have had higher enrollment rates in public universities and colleges than their white counterparts. Without the inclusivity brought about by DEI, research predicts that the enrollment rate of minority students in the state will gradually decrease. By limiting diversity in institutions, the DEI bans are discouraging historically marginalized groups from pursuing more opportunities and a higher education. Hiring practices in various businesses and corporate settings would also change, restricting the amount of opportunities afforded to minorities in the workspace.

However, the abolishment of DEI still retains an element of fairness. They allow for people to be judged based on their merits, ensuring that those receiving education or job opportunities have the right qualifications for their position. Without DEI, minority groups could still achieve the same opportunities by displaying their qualification and proving their excellence. Overall, however, DEI gives historically underrepresented groups of people greater opportunity in the world, and statistics show that it generally benefits the communities it’s been implemented in. Only through a greater, diverse population can a community thrive and grow.