The conservative counter-revolution proceeds apace. If that pace is slow, it’s because the change it’s effecting is real and not theatrical. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), like trans activism and “defund the police” before it, is falling out of favor with the American people. So DEI is rebranding. And in the real world, that means retreating.
The New York Times reports that DEI consultants are changing tactics as Americans are getting fed up with the enforced-equity racket. The large aerospace company Woodward, for example, recently hired Karith Foster, a consultant with a new and improved approach to DEI. “She believes that an overemphasis on identity groups and a tendency to reduce people to ‘victim or villain’ can strip agency from and alienate everyone—including employees of color,” writes Jennifer Miller.
There’s another name for that kind of critique: conservative. So, too, is Foster’s claim that “her approach allows everyone ‘to make mistakes, say the wrong thing sometimes, and be able to correct it.’”
But the DEI industry has its own focus-group-tested term for rethinking corporate struggle sessions: “belonging.” “Some companies,” says the Times, “are amending their approach to D.E.I., even renaming their departments to include ‘belonging.’”
You can slap it with any label you like, but Foster is describing pre-DEI civility. And here’s a useful rule: First comes the rebranding, then the renunciation.
We’ve seen it before. When Americans grew suspicious of the defund movement, its evangelists refreshed their terms. Oh, you thought we meant defund the police? Sorry, big misunderstanding. We just meant reform the police, improve them, help them do their jobs better, that kind of thing. And when Americans were fed up with defund altogether, its champions began to drop it cold.
“Belonging” is the new “reform.” Give it time, and both DEI and DEI 2.0 will go the way of defund.
In some places it already has. “DEI is dead.” So said Martin Brown, the man Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin picked to revamp the state’s former Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Yes, former. The Wall Street Journal reports that Youngkin “has rebranded the DEI bureaucracy as the Office of Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion, emphasizing a commitment to equality and a level playing field, not equity and manufactured outcomes.”
Last month, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Brown, a black Republican, called the U.S. “the greatest country in the world . . . that is already diverse, that has been inclusive” and talked of “promoting that and then expanding it and tearing down tribalism and divisiveness.”
Naturally, Democrats and progressives in Virginia are losing their minds—just as DEI con artists are objecting to the “belonging” remake on the corporate level. As the Times puts it: “Some critics worry it’s about making white people comfortable rather than addressing systemic inequality, or that it simply allows companies to prioritize getting along over necessary change.”
That not really what critics are worried about. This is. DEI is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and from 2020 to the present, it was the Gold Rush. But it’s still just a small part of American industry in general, and if aerospace CEOs and other C-level executives are moving beyond DEI, the rivers and mines will soon be tapped out. The Times notes that the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed “corporate belonging” last year and found the following: “Seventy-six percent of respondents said their organization prioritized belonging as part of its D.E.I. strategy and 64 percent said they planned to invest more in belonging initiatives this year.”
Fruitful change is rarely quick and explosive. And conservative change is particularly sluggish and incremental. But it happens, nonetheless. Note that DEI has been dealt these blows not by radical New Right activists, but by those they despise: corporate leaders, entrepreneurial liberals, and moderate Republicans. In time, perhaps a long time, the New Right will also rebrand and renounce.