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Tags: google | facebook | dei officer | affirmative action | supreme court

Google, Facebook Slash DEI Programs in 2023

Google, Facebook Slash DEI Programs in 2023
Toyota Motor N.A. Chief Diversity Officer Tellis Bethel speaks on stage during the National Urban League Conference Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Gala, July 28, 2023 in Houston. (Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 29 December 2023 01:01 PM EST

Big tech giants, including Google and Facebook, drastically cut their diversity, equity and inclusion programs this year, in some cases slashing DEI budgets by as much as 90%, CNBC reports.

The about-face, consultants say, is due to a growing skepticism in the nation towards DEI, the Supreme Court’s ruling in June to make affirmative action at institutions of higher learning illegal, and budget cuts.

DEI executives, for their part, blame “woke backlash” for the reversal. Some argue that if diverse people are not equally represented at companies, especially in the C-suite, ahead of the artificial intelligence revolution, AI will merely cement these divisions for posterity.

George Floyd

In 2020, when Google first embraced DEI, CEO Sundar Pichai said, the goal was “to build sustainable equity for Google’s Black+ community, and, externally, to make our products helpful in the moments that matter most to Black users.”

Corporate America jumped on the DEI bandwagon right after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police that year, with major corporations pledging to invest millions of dollars each year to become more diverse.

Google vowed to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in leadership by 30% by 2025; doubling Black workers at non-senior levels by the time; becoming more inclusive in hiring, retention and promotions; and supporting Black employees’ mental and physical health.

Similarly, in a June 2020 letter to Meta employees, COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company was committed to hiring 30% more people of color and expanding Black leaders by 30% by 2025.

“Achieving racial justice and equality is a goal we all share — and a goal that will take real work to achieve,” Sandberg wrote.

But by the middle of 2023, DEI-related job postings were down 44% from a year prior, according to job site Indeed — a 180-degree reversal from 2020 and 2021 when these types of job listings were expanding by 30%.

Both Google and Meta have since laid off DEI staff and downsized these programs.

In fact, as fast as DEI rose in popularity after Floyd’s murder, it began to plummet at an equally rapid pace this summer after the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action — with big corporations suddenly afraid they could be sued for their employment policies heavily focused on race.

Scores have eliminated their chief diversity officers, with some leaving of their own volition because they said they were not given adequate support by leadership.

Obvious Cuts

“Whenever there is an economic downturn in tech, some of the first budgets that are cut are in DEI, but I don’t think we’ve seen such stark contrast as this year,” says Melinda Briana Epler, founder and CEO of Empovia, a DEI consultant.

“When George Floyd began to become the topic of conversations, companies and executives doubled down on their commitments, and here we are only a couple years later, and folks are looking for opportunities to cut those teams,” concurs Devika Brij, CEO of Brij the Gap Consulting, a diversity consultant to technology companies.

Brij says some of her clients have cut their DEI budgets by 90% or eliminated them altogether.

This year, Google cut DEI executives supporting Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker, and Facebook parent Meta eliminated many DEI managers. Both companies also scratched training for underrepresented talent, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

A Facebook spokesperson said Meta is still fully committed to its DEI efforts, as did a spokesperson for Google.

The Google public relations executive said the company has committed more than $5 million to historically Black colleges and universities to strengthen the pipeline of talent to Big Tech companies. Google has also launched a Startups Women Founders Fund for women entrepreneurs, they added.

‘Racial Reckoning’

Diversity executives are, understandably, feeling deflated. Brenda Wilkerson, CEO of AnitaB.org, which runs the Grace Hopper women’s tech conference, remarks, “To say our progress is not in peril would not be truthful.”

“Some of the progress [we have made] working with multiple challenges in our society was erased in the last year,” Wilkerson says.

“Then you have this backlash against racial reckoning,” she continues, calling the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action “‘wokeism drama.’”

Then there is the argument that people need to fight to keep their voices relevant especially as AI takes hold in everyday life and work.

“We’re in a big technology inflection point,” Wilkerson says. “As AI begins to take off, what happens if organizations are less inclusive, the product is not reflective of the users?

“We know that AI is trained on historic data, and that historic data is missing critical segments of the population. Having women and non-centered folks as decision-makers is going to be critical to making sure it doesn’t happen again.”

© 2024 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

Big tech giants, including Google and Facebook, drastically cut their diversity, equity and inclusion programs this year, in some cases slashing DEI budgets by as much as 90%, CNBC reports.
google, facebook, dei officer, affirmative action, supreme court
Friday, 29 December 2023 01:01 PM
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