Broken Clocks: Washington Post Editorial Board Gets It Right on Diversity Statements

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

At first reading, a recent op-ed from the Washington Post’s editorial board might make you think you’re in the Twilight Zone. But it is true: The board argued against universities requiring job candidates to make diversity statements in order to obtain employment.

The piece comes after MIT became the first elite educational institution to do away with diversity hiring requirements. If other universities follow suit, it could be a win for free speech in academia. However, it might be too early to come to that conclusion.

In the piece, the authors assert that DEI statements are essentially ideological litmus tests that should have no place in a university setting. They refer to Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy, who “urged abolition of DEI statements, arguing that they amount to ‘compulsion’ and ‘ideological litmus tests.’”

The authors also rightly pointed out that “Because the criteria for acceptable DEI statements are often vague, jobseekers must do the work of anticipating the ideological and political preferences of university administrators and faculty, who are disproportionately left-leaning.”

Next, the authors point out that the requirements could prompt applicants to self-censor or even lie about their true beliefs. They note that those who might “disagree with the ideological premises of such inquiries have an overwhelming incentive to suppress their true beliefs, or pretend to have the ‘right’ ones, lest they be eliminated from consideration.”

Lastly, the piece asserts that universities can cultivate an inclusive atmosphere without resorting to forcing people to adhere to leftist ideology in violation of First Amendment principles. “Whatever their original intent, the use of DEI statements has too often resulted in self-censorship and ideological policing,” the authors explain.

Well, this appears to be a welcome sign, does it not? If one were to read this piece without knowing where it came from, they might assume it was published on a right-leaning outlet. Yet, even the Washington Post can see that requiring applicants to take a de facto litmus test to land a job at a university is highly problematic even though it might benefit a left-wing agenda.

As mentioned in the article, the rise of diversity statement requirements cropped up during the George Floyd riots, when various institutions used the unrest and outrage over Floyd’s murder to signal their virtue and pretend they cared about nonwhite Americans. Indeed, the DEI movement gained national popularity, with companies installing DEI executives ostensibly to foster a more inclusive environment in the workplace.

As is typical, the movement went way too far in pursuing “equity,” pushing diversity trainings that did more to divide than to unite people of various backgrounds. Even further, they don’t actually promote diversity as advertised. This is likely one of several reasons why the DEI movement in corporate America has fizzled out.

But, as with the millions of dollars pledged to black causes, it appears these companies were just kidding about that too. A recent Bloomberg report revealed that DEI officials are being laid off at surprisingly higher rates as companies are reorganizing their priorities. “The layoffs sweeping the technology industry are gutting diversity and inclusion departments, threatening company pledges to boost underrepresented groups in their ranks and leadership,” according to the report

The author continued:

Listings for DEI roles were down 19% last year — a bigger decline than legal or general human resources jobs saw, according to findings from Textio, which helps companies create unbiased job ads. Only software engineering and data science jobs saw larger declines, at 24% and 27%, respectively.

Bloomberg News identified DEI professionals who lost their jobs in recent weeks at Inc., Meta Platforms Inc., Twitter Inc. and Redfin Corp. Many said they expect their responsibilities will go to former colleagues who remain or to employee resource groups, which often don’t get compensated for that work.

At this point, it is safe to assume that the push for DEI was little more than mindless virtue signaling intended to stay on the good side of the progressive left. However, in educational institutions, the ideology has been used to ensure that those being hired at colleges are in line with progressive thought on DEI and other issues. It is one of several ways to make sure progressive thought maintains supremacy on college campuses. In light of this, it is no wonder that progressives who are willing to be honest are speaking out against them.

As the piece pointed out, there are ways to promote diversity without resorting to compelling or silencing speech. Hopefully, more schools will follow MIT’s example.


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