20% of tech companies have reduced their DEI teams within the last year, a new study finds.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts grew in popularity across the tech industry in the wake of 2020's racial justice protests. Three years later, however, those same companies are scaling back their efforts. These DEI measures, it seems, were “more show than substance” for at least a meaningful segment of the companies in question.
Layoffs are now the norm across the tech industry, highlighting which teams are considered essential and which are not.
Hiring Biases and Wage Gaps Remain Concerns
The new data comes from recruiting platform Hired, which recently released a report surveying 229 hiring leaders. Of these, 20% said they had scaled back DEI teams within the last 12 months. At the same time, wage gaps widened in 2022 both for women and for men within all racial and ethnic groups.
In addition, 12% of respondents said their DEI programs remain “more at risk for cutbacks in the future if the economy tightens.”
One major signals indicates that biases are returning to form after a few years of trend reversals. More tech businesses hiring for roles are only sending interview requests to men: The percentage was 38% in 2022, up from 37% in 2021, while still lower than the 43% that held steady across 2019 and 2020.
Salary Transparency Laws Might Help
It's not all bad news, as 51% said their DEI teams were a “must-have.” Plus, new laws mandating some measure of disclosure of salary bands might help to push businesses towards more equitable practices.
According to Hired platform data, these laws have “generally positive” effects, with gender wage gaps narrowing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Speaking to MarketWatch, Erica Yamoto, senior vice president of marketing at Hired, said that “we all read the headlines. We see what’s going on in the anti-DEI movement. We see it in our survey data,” adding that trend is “definitely worrying.”
Let's Not Forget Diversity Makes More Money
A 2021 McKinsey report found that prioritizing diversity can result in 36% higher financial returns.
And it's not the first analysis that has linked racial diversity in management to positive financial outcomes, either, which hints that 2023's retrenchment has more to do with systemic racism than market forces.
The new report showing a retreat from DEI efforts is another indicator that the US is still unable to take three steps forward without taking two steps back — at least when it comes to addressing the racial inequalities that have shaped the nation for centuries.