The ideal of a just and equal society in America is under attack. It’s under attack in what we teach our children and other aspects of American society, including the workplace. At no other time in the 30-plus years I’ve been doing this work can I remember such a vocal and emboldened surge in resistance to DE&I efforts.
This pushback presents a significant challenge to achieving equity in our workplaces and social justice in society. There are several reasons why resistance to DE&I is flourishing some of which are discussed below:
- Lack of unity: The groups most impacted by the surge in hate and marginalization don’t always work together to amplify each other’s voices. There are way too many siloed interests that get in the way of coalition building and a unified agenda.
- Misinformation and propaganda: There is a lot of misinformation and propaganda about DE&I, which has been propagated by some media outlets, politicians, and special interest groups. Some people believe that DE&I is an attack on white people or an effort to discriminate against them in favor of folks from diverse backgrounds. Others believe that DE&I is a way of imposing a particular ideology or worldview on society. These misconceptions and misrepresentations have fueled resistance and skepticism towards DE&I, making it more challenging than ever to gain acceptance.
- Political polarization: Our political system is a mess. In recent years, political polarization has intensified in America, and this has created a hostile environment. Unfortunately, DE&I has become politicized, and some view it as a liberal agenda rather than a universal value that should be embraced by all.
- Fear and anxiety: The rapid demographic and social changes and economic uncertainty have led to a belief among some people that their culture and way of life are under threat and that they will be replaced. This fear has been exploited by some who use it to mobilize opposition to DE&I. Unfortunately, this fear, anxiety, and uncertainty has led to resistance and rejection of DE&I, as some people see it as a threat to their cultural identity and well-being.
Let’s for a moment stipulate that this and other issues are contributing to the resistance we’re seeing. Those who oppose DE&I in America are organized and mobilized. The only question for me is where is our equally organized and mobilized counterargument?
Greg Almieda is the Founder & CEO of GVC, an inclusion business strategy firm.
If you’re in the Boston area on June 15th join The Human Resources Leadership Forum for an in-person panel discussion on Diversity Resistance in Corporate America: What’s it all about and how do we deal with it? Registration and program information can be found here.