In recent years, there has been much discussion of diversity and inclusion (especially within schools and the workplace.) Because certain groups have historically been underrepresented or have faced specific obstacles in hiring and entrances to higher education, many companies and schools have enacted policies that call for certain amounts of diversity amongst staff and student bodies.
However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office recently issued a warning to state agencies and public universities saying that the use of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are not only negative, —but inherently illegal.
Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Gardner Pate, spoke with agencies leaders on the matter, and expressed that the use of DEI policies directly violated both state and federal employment laws. He further insisted that the hiring process cannot take into account factors “other than merit.”
He said that all DEI initiatives were designed to illegally discriminate against particular demographic groups. However, Pate did not specify exactly which demographic groups he was referring to.
“As Texans, we celebrate the diversity of our State and the presence of a workforce that represents our rich culture. In recent years, however, the innocuous sounding notion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others,” Pate wrote in the memo.
“Indeed, rather than increasing diversity in the workplace, these DEI initiatives are having the opposite effect and are being advanced in ways that proactively encourage discrimination in the workplace.”
He continued: “Rebranding this employment discrimination as ‘DEI’ doesn’t make the practice any less illegal.”
“Further, when a state agency spends taxpayer dollars to fund offices, departments, or employee positions dedicated to promoting forbidden DEI initiatives, such actions are also inconsistent with the law,” Pate noted.
“Illegally adding DEI requirements as a screening tool in hiring practices or using DEI as a condition of employment leads to the exclusion and alienation of individuals from the workplace.”
Spokeswoman Renae Eze was quick to elaborate on some of Pate’s points, saying: “The letter from the Governor’s chief of staff is a reminder that state agencies and public universities must follow federal and state law in their hiring practices. Both federal and state law make equity quotas illegal. Equity is not equality. Here in Texas, we give people a chance to advance based on talent and merit. Aspiring to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.”