Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week told state agencies to stop considering diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in hiring, saying it violates federal and state employment laws, reports The Texas Tribune.
"The innocuous sounding notion of diversity, equity, and inclusion [DEI] has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others," the Republican governor's chief of staff, Gardner Pate, wrote in a memo to agency leaders obtained by the news outlet.
Pate did not specify which groups he was referring to, but he said the programs "proactively encourage discrimination in the workplace" and do the opposite of what they claim to do.
He also said hiring cannot be based on factors "other than merit."
"Rebranding this employment discrimination as 'DEI' doesn’t make the practice any less illegal," Pate wrote. "Further, when a state agency spends taxpayer dollars to fund offices, departments, or employee positions dedicated to promoting forbidden DEI initiatives, such actions are also inconsistent with the law."
DEI initiatives are intended to address inequities against historically marginalized groups that may be found within an organization. They focus on training, organizational policies, and practices as well as organizational culture, according to Erica Foldy, a professor at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, last week said he plans to bar state universities from funding DEI initiatives, arguing it was an "indoctrinating" program.
Andrew Eckhous, a Texas lawyer who specializes in employment and civil rights litigation, said Abbott's office is "completely mischaracterizing DEI's role in employment decisions" in an apparent attempt to block initiatives that improve diversity.
"Anti-discrimination laws protect all Americans by ensuring that employers do not make hiring decisions based on race, religion, or gender, while DEI initiatives work in tandem with those laws to encourage companies to solicit applications from a wide range of applicants, which is legal and beneficial," Eckhous said in an email.
"The only piece of news in this letter is that Gov. Abbott is trying to stop diversity initiatives for the apparent benefit of some unnamed demographic that he refuses to disclose," he added.
Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Abbott's office, said in a statement: "The letter from the governor's chief of staff is a reminder that state agencies and public universities must follow federal and state law in their hiring practices.
"The issue is not diversity — the issue is that equity is not equality. Here in Texas, we give people a chance to advance based on talent and merit," Eze added.
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.