DEI Will Be the Death of Us

Higher education’s abject submission to the gods of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is now assured. Many colleges and universities are building into their hiring, promotion, and tenure schemes a requirement that candidates show “DEI competencies” in order to advance. What’s more, the rubrics assessing whether a candidate has hit the mark are saturated with the terminology of leftist identity politics. More importantly, they take for granted the central assumptions of modern cultural Marxism and critical race theory.

DEI holds that treating people equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation, is somehow perverse and wrong. Social justice requires dismantling old “systems of oppression” in the name of “equity”—that is, equal outcomes. If that means discriminating in favor of protected classes, and against everyone else, so be it. It’s a demented and profoundly un-American point of view.

Admissions quotas, which mainstream Democrats largely abandoned back in the 1990s as voters awakened to how unfair they were, have returned with a vengeance, again in the name of “equity.” What’s more troubling, though, is not merely that higher education has succumbed to identity politics. Given the ivory tower’s increasingly leftist tilt, that was inevitable. Rather, it’s the rapid progress DEI is making outside of the education establishment.

Corporate America, which was long a bastion of free market conservatism, is now undergoing a fundamental and sweeping cultural shift. Corporate human resources offices, full of recent college graduates, now focus on cajoling hapless employees into taking on the role of “social justice warriors,” and remolding the corporate workforce to ensure that hiring and promotion decisions are made with an eye to achieving numerical (and generally arbitrary) “equity” goals.

Sadly, the NASDAQ stock exchange, in collusion with the Biden Administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has recently committed to enforcing these perverse and un-American dogmas by requiring any U.S. company listed on the exchange to have a minimum number of minorities, women, and members of the LGBT community on its board—or else submit to mandatory Maoist self-denunciation.

The simple fact that discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation is banned by state and federal law seems not to trouble those pushing such efforts at radical transformation—presumably because they assume (correctly) that the prosecutors and bureaucrats charged with upholding such laws have no interest in protecting the rights of anyone outside the Left’s cherished protected classes. 

In all likelihood, then, the DEI advocates at NASDAQ will succeed in their effort to embed the twisted logic of cultural Marxism in corporate America, even more deeply than it is now. Companies that cling stubbornly to the principles of nondiscrimination and meritocracy will find themselves delisted, vilified, and excluded from the new, aggressively woke brand of state capitalism that the Left is forging—underwritten, as usual, with public funds.

The stakes are high, and not just for corporations. Conservatives and Republicans should ask themselves: if every institution in modern society submits to cultural Marxism and identity politics—from education and entertainment to big business and even mainline Christianity—then what are the long-term prospects of a political movement that dares to dissent from such a pervasive orthodoxy?

If we once thought we could afford to scoff at the woke antics of professors, the looming conquest of the corporate world by the Left should be seen for the grave threat to America that it is. In the battle for corporate America’s soul, failure simply cannot be an option.

About Nicholas L. Waddy

Nicholas L. Waddy, an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred, blogs at www.waddyisright.com.

Photo: iStock/GETTY IMAGES

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