business news in context, analysis with attitude

Two weeks ago, MNB pointed out that "the forces that successfully challenged university diversity programs, essentially bringing to an end the traditional definition of affirmative action, next will be coming for the US business community."  Edward Blum, the activist pressing the anti-diversity case in the courts, said that he was following up his successful attack on academia with one on race-based preferences in corporate America, "including diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that have become commonplace in the private sector."

Now, the Washington Post reports that "a corporate law firm that was accused of racial discrimination for offering a diversity fellowship to law students of underrepresented groups has opened its program to students of all races, according to a change on its website.

"A few weeks earlier, Morrison Foerster, based in San Francisco, was sued for excluding nonminority students from the program. The lawsuit was brought by the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), founded by conservative activist Edward Blum, who was behind the cases that culminated in the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions. Now his groups are among those launching a broader campaign to dismantle diversity initiatives in the private sector.

"Morrison Foerster is one of two law firms that are now facing legal action over diversity fellowships. The AAER lawsuit alleges that the Keith Wetmore Fellowship for Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion at Morrison Foerster 'excludes certain applicants based on their skin color'."

The Post offers some broader context:

"Since late June, when the Supreme Court ruled against the use of affirmative action in college and university admissions, there has been a flurry of legal activity that seeks to test the high court’s view on the consideration of race in matters of employment.

"In July, 13 attorneys general sent a letter to the Fortune 100 chief executives, warning the overturning of affirmative action could have ramifications for corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs. America First Legal, the conservative nonprofit group backed by former Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller, has filed complaints in recent months against Kellogg, Nordstrom and Activision Blizzard, alleging that their diversity and inclusion policies constitute racial discrimination."

KC's View:

It seems clear that if you and your company have any sort of diversity program, looking to broaden representation in a way that makes your company more sensitive and attentive to a diverse customer base, these folks probably are coming for you next.

Be prepared.

I've made the case here on MNB many times for DEI programs - retailers are better able to market and merchandise to a disparate customer base if not everybody around the table, or in the aisles, looks and acts and thinks the same.  DEI can be good business.

I suspect that it will be eternally frustrating to these activists that while they can sue schools and law firms and businesses for pursuing diversity, they won't be able to sue the American public on the same grounds - there is no way to stop the basic demographic reality that America will eventually become a place where minorities of all kinds will comprise a majority.  I'd argue that this actually fulfills the promise of America, but that's a different discussion.

We're already seeing this in certain circles, and I expect it will expand - organizations will focus less on diversity and more on adversity.  The goal will be to recruit people from all walks of life and all economic classes, because in doing so, these organizations may be able to fulfill their DEI goals as effectively.

The bottom line is this - companies need to review their DEI policies and get ready for inevitable battles.