If the failure of Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs (DEI) wasn’t evident before October 7th, 2023, a day now seared in the minds of every Jewish mind across the information-connected globe, it should be now. The violent protests that have been roiling U.S. colleges and cities are showing the bedfellows DEI has brought together.
The abhorrent cooperation between pro-Hamas advocates and DEI supporters evident in these protests portends an increase in work for employment lawyers.
DEI Experts Warned Us
Some DEI experts have been warning that antisemitism is being promoted throughout DEI educational programs in active and passive ways. However, the power arrogated to DEI professionals has thus far proven too strong to resist.
Tabia Lee, EdD, an African American DEI expert was fired from her position as Faculty Director for the Office of Equity, Social Justice and Multicultural Education at De Anza College in California and was accused of being a “white supremacist,” “right-wing extremist,” “dirty Zionist and a “wrong kind of Black.” Why? Because, according to her, she “made the mistake of trying to create an authentically inclusive learning environment for everyone, including Jewish students. Turns out, a toxic form of DEI (which is more accurately called “critical social justice”) demanded I do the opposite.”
Her ostracization was one out of many black intellectuals who have warned about DEI’s pervasive othering, particularly of Jews and Asians.
DEI programs have been foisted upon every college campus and seemingly every American company. The goals of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs are noble. After all, it’s a minuscule percentage of people who don’t believe that diversity is beneficial or that inclusivity is at least a form of common decency.
Something Has Gone Wrong With DEI
Something has gone terribly wrong with DEI’s education efforts, however, when those who equate misgendering to a form of violence are the same people either trivializing or rationalizing the most gruesome violence.
Something has gone terribly wrong with DEI education when those who protest on behalf of LGBTQ and transgender groups then protest in favor of a terrorist group that despises everything those groups stand for.
Something has gone terribly wrong with DEI education when those who demand we all stand for anti-racism then stand shoulder to shoulder with people who are rabidly anti-Jew.
Something has gone terribly wrong with DEI education when Jews, representing only 2.4% of the U.S. population but are the victims of 60% of this country’s hate crimes, are not included in DEI programs.
Something has gone terribly wrong with DEI education when people like Tabia Lee lose their jobs for not being black enough or for being Zionist sympathizers when trying to welcome Jews into the DEI community.
They Are Coming Back to an Organization Near You
Most people participating in every one of the protests taking place across this country have likely participated in some form of school or corporate-mandated DEI training. These people will be coming back to an organization near you. There, they will engage with colleagues who found their behavior, at best, offensive and intimidating, and at worst, worthy of going on the offensive by hiring an attorney or taking to social media.
In some cases, a company may have to contend with an employee who opposed its statement supporting Israel or its expression of empathy with the victims of the October 7th massacre.
Are corporate and non-profit organizations prepared for what might come their way? What crisis management and crisis communication plans do these organizations have in place to address the potent mix of ignorance, self-righteousness, anger, and flagrant Jew-hatred possibly visiting their organizations?
If DEI’s failure wasn’t obvious before, it should be now. DEI as we know it needs to be scrapped for a better alternative, but how will that work, and how will that go over internally and externally, as an organization seeks to move to a more inclusive model?
What communication plans must an organization craft to articulate the changes it will need to take to preempt possible lawsuits and/or reputational attacks?
The time is now for attorneys, CEOs, executive directors, and college administrators to plan for the possible confrontation. While it’s not inevitable that it will happen to all organizations, it is inevitable that it will happen to some.
Mark Sachs is the Founder of Orwell Grey Strategic Communications, LLC. Based in South Florida, Orwell Grey empowers companies, non-profits, and individuals by employing the art and science of communication.