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CFP: The Backlash Against DEI Programs

  • 1.  CFP: The Backlash Against DEI Programs

    Posted 06-03-2024 06:46

    The Backlash Against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs

    Closing Date: Feb 1, 2025


    Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal


    Guest editor(s)

    Dianna L. StoneLynn M. ShoreMikki Hebl


    There has been a growing backlash against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in work organizations, U.S. state governments, healthcare, and educational institutions (see Abrica & Oliver Andrew, 2024; Blackstock et al., 2024; Roberson et al., 2024.) For example, a number of work organizations, such as Meta, Zoom, Snap, Tesla, DoorDash, Lyft, Home Depot, and Wayfair, have eliminated DEI programs (Elias, 2023.) Additionally, at least 50 percent of employees in DEI roles in organizations have been eliminated (Elias, 2023.) Further, 26 states have currently proposed or already passed anti-DEI legislation designed to restrict or eliminated DEI initiatives, and 30 states have introduced bills that would restrict or eradicate DEI programs in higher education (Adams & Chiwaya, 2024.) Although all of these bills did not become law, some states (e.g., Florida, Texas, Utah) have passed bills that abolished DEI programs on college campuses. Further, the backlash seems to have reached wide-ranging proportions. For instance, when a large cargo ship collided with and caused the collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge in March of 2024, Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman argued that DEI was responsible (Bunn, 2024.) Indeed, DEI has become a scapegoat for many problems facing our society.

    Despite the backlash against DEI, research shows that there are a number of benefits of diversity and inclusion for individuals and organizations (see Hebl & King, 2024; Mor Barak, 2015; Shore et al., 2011). Such research has shown positive impacts on organizational performance (e.g., productivity, return on equity and market performance; Richard, 2000), improved decision making, increased creativity, greater customer satisfaction, and increased employees' perceptions of belonging, inclusion, engagement, and organizational culture. (Roberge et al., 2010.) Further, we believe that the backlash against DEI programs is surprising at this point in time because there is a growing diversity in the U.S. population and many other countries (e.g., European Union.). This includes an increase in the number of racial and ethnic minorities, older people, individuals with cognitive, mental, and neurodiverse impairments, and individuals who want to be more authentic about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see Argueta-Rivera et al., in press). If organizations only hire white European-American males, they will not avail themselves of the many talents and skills that people of color and many others (e.g., women, older workers, people with disabilities) bring to the workplace. Thus, we believe that such restricted employment of people will make it difficult for companies to fill all of their positions, and compete with organizations in the worldwide marketplace.

    Given the backlash against DEI programs, we believe, as do others, that a better understanding is needed about the sources of the backlash against diversity, and the reasons that corporate leaders believe that DEI programs have failed (Dobbin & Kalev, 2016; Roberson et al., 2024.) For instance, some reports indicate that in large companies in the U. S. (i.e., those with 100 or more employees) the proportion of Black men in management positions has only increased slightly (i.e., from 3% to 3.3%), and the proportion of women in managerial positions rose from 22% to 29% from 1985 to 2014 (Dobbin & Kalev, 2016.) However, it has not increased since that time (Dobbin & Kalev, 2016.) Further, in the high-tech industry most of the tech jobs are still dominated by white men (Shoemaker, 2023.)

    Although there are a number of definitions of diversity and inclusion, we use the definition by Mor Barak (2014) that refers to diversity as the division of the workforce into distinct categories that (a) have a perceived commonality within a given cultural or national context, and that (b) impact potentially harmful or beneficial employment outcomes such as job opportunities, treatment in the workplace, and promotion prospects-irrespective of job-related skills and qualifications." Further, the primary goals of this special issue of EDI are to foster research (a) on the underlying bases for the backlash against DEI programs, (b) consider the reasons that DEI programs are perceived as ineffective, (c) develop strategies for help enhance the diversity and inclusion of outgroup members.

    People often have a misunderstanding about the goals of DEI programs, and several of the misconceptions about DEI programs noted in the popular press are highlighted below. These issues might serve as potential paper topics.

    DEI programs are perceived as preferential treatment programs.

    Some people believe social justice problems have already been addressed in our society.

    Others have argued that the backlash against DEI programs stems from the belief that white European-Americans have a right to dominate and hold positions of power in society.

    Some leaders have twisted the DEI narrative so that it appears to be anti-White, and involves the hiring and promotion of unqualified people of color.

    The growing diversity in the U. S. makes people feel that they are losing control.

    DEI programs also lead to the perception that people of color and other minorities (e.g., women, people with disabilities) will replace them in their jobs.

    Others may perceive that racial and ethnic minorities, women, older workers, people with disabilities, and those with different sexual orientations are inferior in knowledge, skills, and abilities. What characteristics are associated with these views?

    Some corporate leaders have argued that DEI programs actually represent racism against white European-Americans.

    List of Topic Areas

    · Diversity 

    · Equity 

    · Inclusion 

    · Backlash 

    · DEI programs 

    · Social justice

    Guest Editors

    Dianna L. Stone, 
    University of New Mexico, USA, 


    Lynn M. Shore, 
    Colorado State University, USA, 


    Mikki Hebl, 
    Rice University, USA, 

    Submissions Information

    Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.
    Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here.
    Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ""Please select the issue you are submitting to". 
    Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

    Key Deadlines

    Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 01/06/2024 
    Closing date for manuscripts submission:

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