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Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been a topic in the workplace since at least the 1960s, when the Civil Rights era sparked public attention and helped push forward essential legislation such as the Equal Pay Act (1963), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967). Most recently, the movement saw a resurgence in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, which inspired nationwide protests and dialogue around racial justice. Major corporations made significant gestures, pledging at least $340 billion towards initiatives such as diversity training and building entire DEI teams.

Three years later, we find ourselves in a different cultural moment. The same companies that were vocal about DEI then are now laying off those workers or slashing their departments entirely. Meanwhile, major political decisions such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rollback of affirmative action are delivering devastating blows to crucial initiatives meant to preserve and protect diversity in higher education – and in turn, in the workplaces that these students will eventually staff and lead.

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