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Go ahead, rebrand DEI, but don't lose sight of its longer-term significance and purpose

In a recent New York Times' DealBook Newsletter, reporter Sarah Kressler writes about the rebranding and repackaging of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Has the pendulum shifted?

For, DEI as we know it for the most part, as a set of programs and policies to counter systemic inequities and abuse in organizational practices, only accelerated with the furor over the killing of George Floyd.

In the short, ensuring three years' span, however, it has been politicized by conservatives and right-wing reactionaries, conflating the promotion of equity and inclusion with the erosion of excellence and equal opportunity, among other things.

As Kessler notes, even if DEI is not on the front burner of corporate concerns, it does not mean that initiatives are being dismantled. Indeed, corporations and organizations would be myopic to refute the myriad of studies that show the benefits to company productivity, organizational effectiveness and employee engagement that DEI program infrastructure affords. As the article reports,

In a survey of 194 chief human resource officers published by the Conference Board last month, none of the respondents said they planned to scale back D.E.I. initiatives.

Yet, with DEI's politicization by conservatives, right-wing investors, DEI professionals and allies who see the long-term game, may be more sanguine and accept that some compromises may be required, including repackaging the acronym of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

But what should we call DEI?

Perhaps we can steal from the newly tweaked website of a long shot challenger to Joe Biden, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips. In response to an endorsement received from a billionaire investor and ardent critic of D.E.I. initiatives in higher education (itself a story worthy of its own post), William A. Ackman, "Gone was “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” In its place: “Equity and Restorative Justice.”"

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