The largest and most profitable companies in competitive markets apparently meant it when they promised to interview and hire a lot more minority job applicants.
Hiring data from 2020-21 of 88 companies on Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 100 list bears that out. An eye-opening report from Bloomberg shows these companies increased their workforces by 323,000-plus following the George Floyd protests and riots.
The surge in hiring was dominated by diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. An eye-opening 94% of new hires could be categorized as “people of color (POC).” Whites – just over 70% of the U.S. population – accounted for only 6% of S&P 100 hires.
“White people held fewer [less-senior] roles in 2021 than they did in 2020, whereas thousands of people of color were added to the ranks,” notes Bloomberg. “But the trend continued up the job ladder in top, high-paid jobs too: Companies increased their racial diversity among executives, managers and professionals.”
Many if not most of these companies laid off thousands of employees starting in fall 2022. Numerous reports show that DEI positions (as well as HR employees) were the top 2 choices for cuts. No doubt companies will claim the “last one hired, first one fired” doctrine factored into who they chose to let go if and when they’re sued for discrimination.
DEI policies put smaller companies in a legal bind
S&P 100 companies are not only at risk for class-action lawsuits by recently fired employees who can show race may have been a factor. Tens to hundreds of thousands of white job candidates who got passed over for jobs can more than reasonably claim discrimination.
Starbucks recently took it on the chin for firing a white regional manager in 2020. A New Jersey jury determined the company fired her, in part, due to race, and awarded her $25.6 million. The negative publicity likely stung Starbucks worse than the payout.
Nearly 17% of HR professionals say they’re being told by company executives not to hire white men and women. Maybe the actual percentage is significantly higher. Or perhaps the majority of smaller and private companies are following merit-based hiring practices unlike the biggest, publicly traded companies that clearly aren’t.
To make matters even worse, “at companies where overall employment shrank in 2021, White workers made up 68.5% of the losses, another 16.5% were Black, 9.7% were Hispanic and 2.3% were Asian,” according to the Bloomberg report.
The S&P 100 currently includes companies like 3M, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Amgen, Cisco, Costco, CVS, Goldman Sachs, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Mondelez International, Netflix, Nike, Pepsi, UPS, Tesla, Walmart and Wells Fargo.