Maybe it isn’t too much of a surprise that DEI jobs face real uncertainty at the moment. The Wall Street Journal even reported about this last week:
“Diversity, equity and inclusion—or DEI—jobs were put in the crosshairs after many companies started re-examining their executive ranks during the tech sector’s shake out last fall. Some chief diversity officers say their work is facing additional scrutiny since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions and companies brace for potential legal challenges. DEI work has also become a political target.”
I wrote last week about how CFOs are eyeing sustainability jobs for cuts even where they feel long term investments in ESG are important. To be fair, ESG/sustainability departments aren’t the only ones targeted during cost-cutting initiatives. However, they tend to be consistently near the top of the list because of the historical difficulty in demonstrating the real-money return on investment. This time, pressures are higher given the current politicization and weaponization of ESG/DEI. The best defense for corporate ESG/DEI staff is to show the value of your efforts in business fundamentals – revenue, cost savings, margin improvements, efficiencies, entry into new markets, etc. As I have long held, it is best to stay away from linking ESG/DEI directly to stock prices and that may be even more relevant today. The capital markets are arguably even more sensitive to negative ESG/DEI news than ever while also unsure how to process positive ESG/DEI news.