'Under full attack' | CEO of world's largest HR association says DEI will 'reset' in 2024

CEO of world's largest HR association says DEI will 'reset' in 2024

The president of the Society for Human Resource Management has said that 2024 is set to be the year diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts within companies will “come under full attack”.

Johnny C Taylor Jr, the president and CEO of the world’s largest HR association, recently told reporters that as public discourse around the George Floyd murder fades, organisations are likely to disregard DEI efforts in the new year.

Taylor suggested that the overturn of diversity policies could be much like that seen in the environmental, social, governance (ESG) space and 2024 is likely to be a “reset moment” for DEI.

However, the HR leader also said this ‘reset’ could offer an opportunity for firms to rethink their approach to ensuring long-term DEI success. He said: “We’re three years after what happened in 2020, and we think it’s time to say, ‘Did that work’ and make certain adjustments to our approach to diversity,” he said. “Having different experiences, perspectives and people will ultimately yield a better result. But it’s how you get to [that] ... how does this all work out?”

Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts became a focal point for businesses in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, and firms across the world pledged to tackle racism in their organisation.

This is largely down to increased economic pressures faced by firms, which has given rise to dwindling resources. As a result, many firms have cut back on their diversity and inclusion endeavours.

This news arises as Elon Musk wrote on X (previously Twitter) over the weekend that “DEI must DIE”.

The fashion retailer ASOS also recently announced it would be scrapping diversity targets as incentives for executives in the company to achieve bonuses, further cementing growing attitudes to DEI as dispensable.

Corporate DEI in 2024

Earlier this year, diversity officers from major production studios Disney, Warner Bros, and Netflix were all let go of or lost.

These moves were some of the first indications that companies are set to neglect areas of the business they feel are a ‘nice to have’ as opposed as a ‘need to have’, not viewing DEI as vital to business success.

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However, spectators have criticised the move to cut back on these efforts, calling earlier commitment to diversity as performative, saying that companies scaling back hints at these actions wrongly being seen as non-essential.

As many large organisations are overtly showing themselves moving away from DEI efforts, Taylor may be correct in stating that this is likely to gain more momentum in the new year.

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