DEI-This, DEI-That, Lawyers Will Bill For That

Lawyers get big paydays as U.S. corporations work to unravel $340 billion in DEI commitments.
March 7, 2024
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According to The McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, between May 2020 and Oct. 2022, U.S. corporations made $340 billion in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitments.

graph of DEI commitments increasing to $340 billion in 2022

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Jun. 2023 to strike down affirmative action in higher education, U.S. corporations are racing to unravel their DEI commitments as they become the next target of litigation:

  • Thirteen Republican Attorney Generals issued a warning to Fortune 100 corporations, including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Goldman Sachs, that they would be paying close attention to their hiring practices in Jul. 2023
  • America First Legal sued Hello Alice, a small business funding platform, for offering $25,000 grants for commercial vehicles to black-owned small businesses in Aug. 2023
  • AAER sued Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm, for awarding its $20,000 Fearless Strivers Grant to Black women entrepreneurs in Aug. 2023

Many of the lawsuits like the one against Fearless Fund rely on a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contract agreements. Basically, the cases being presented ask the courts to imagine if these programs were designed only for white applicants and what the response would be.

Lawyers with expertise in DEI-related matters are set to cash in.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Kenji Yoshino, a constitutional law professor at New York University and one of the country’s leading experts on DEI, said, “Inquiries from Fortune 500 companies have surged since June,” and he estimates that he’s presented to about 75 companies since last summer.

In addition, at least six major U.S. corporations, including JPMorgan Chase, Yum! Brands, American Airlines, Lowe’s, and BlackRock have already modified their language regarding policies intended to boost racial and ethnic representation, per Reuters.

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