This Conservative Policy Group is on a Warpath Against DEI Programs

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The American Alliance for Equal Rights, the conservative group behind the Supreme Court’s June ruling on affirmative action in college admissions, is now on a warpath against corporate DEI.

Since June, the policy group has filed lawsuits against some of the largest U.S. law firms; it recently filed a lawsuit against a venture capital firm that focuses its financial support on diverse entrepreneurs. The litigation is spread across the country–Dallas, Miami and Atlanta–but the issues are the same: law firms, venture capital firms and/or corporations should not exclude people on the basis of race or gender. “Excluding students from these esteemed fellowships because they are the wrong race is unfair, polarizing and illegal,” said Edward Blum, president of the American Alliance for Equal Rights, the plaintiff in both lawsuits. “Law firms that have racially-exclusive programs should immediately make them available to all applicants, regardless of their race.”

The American Alliance for Equal Rights filed lawsuits against law firms Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster because both firms offer law student fellowships, with financial stipends, that are awarded to people of color.

The legal field is among the least diverse professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year, 9% of legal workers were Black, 5% Asian and 11% Hispanic or Latino. In contrast, 84% were White. Minorities are underrepresented: Last year, 13.6% of Americans identified as Black, 19.1% as Hispanic or Latino and 6.3% as Asian, according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, 75.5% identified as White alone, and 58.9% said they were White alone and not Hispanic or Latino.

The conservative group also filed a lawsuit against Fearless Fund, which was established in 2019 by prominent Black women to support and empower Black women who own small businesses. Notable investors of Fearless Fund include Bank of America, Costco Wholesale, General Mills, Mastercard, and JPMorgan Chase.

Just like law firms, the world of startups and venture capital is not very diverse. Less than 2% of women entrepreneurs receive funding and less than 1% of POC entrepreneurs receive venture capital funding.

Clearly, the conservative policy group is about to start filing lawsuits against corporations for any specialized recruiting and/or talent strategies that provide opportunities for specific racial or gender groups. So what’s the answer?

Pretty simple. Follow what my alma mater has done for years. UCSF has the LEOP program for disadvantaged students. It asks students to outline how they’ve been disadvantaged and how they would help society if they get an opportunity. I was admitted to UCSF law school through the LEOP program and I was one of maybe 3 white students while the other students were black or Latino. Regardless of race or gender, all of us LEOP students bonded because we were first generation college kids who were helping support our families as teenagers. Life experience, more than race or gender, is the glue that connects us. In corporate recruiting and talent strategies, we can focus on the life experience more than the specific race or gender… and it’ll generate similar and maybe better workforce outcomes while avoiding the current legal challenges towards any and all DEI programs.

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Janine Yancey

Janine Yancey

Emtrain Founder & CEO Employment Law ExpertLong before #MeToo, Emtrain’s Founder and CEO Janine Yancey conducted live training to educate employees and build their skills on respect, empathy and making good decisions to proactively prevent workplace...Read full bio

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