Some tech employees have had enough of the DEI focus at work

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Yesterday Liz Wolfe, a writer at Reason, published a piece about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion focus at major tech companies. Not surprisingly, a lot of employees don’t feel the steady stream of political lectures is very helpful to them personally or to achieving the company’s goals.

Harry, who works at a fully-remote expense management software company, says a whole DEI bureaucracy has sprung up in the last few years including “cultural events” around “ridiculous things like ‘the rich history of AAPI mixology.’” (Names have been changed throughout to protect people’s anonymity; company names have been noted where possible.)

With “explicit pressure from management to put your pronouns in your Slack profiles and your email signatures” and “company-organized ‘safe space’ and ‘coping workshops’” (featuring therapists!) in the wake of the Dobbs decision, Harry’s learned not to push back. When he lodged dissent a few years ago, it yielded nothing; he learned to lay low.

In some cases the focus on DEI has taken the focus off the company’s own products which results in less innovation.

Until recently, Kasey worked for a company based in Santa Barbara that makes doctor-patient portal software. If you make the foolish mistake of using the word guys in Slack, “a slackbot would pop up and tell you to use a more inclusive term,” she says. People on her team would get 45-minute lectures on Fridays by what’s termed “equity groups” on topics like proper pronoun usage.

The worst part, she adds, is that the software was actually really good. The company was “KILLING it.” She’d watched it progress from summer 2020 until recently, when “the woke [stuff] happened, then their competitors passed them and innovation fell behind.” She didn’t end up leaving because of wokeness, but because the product was suffering — which is a related issue, she notes, if company resources are being frequently diverted to glorified HR efforts in lieu of improving the product. “Far more effort was spent on pronouns than on what we were paid to do.”

What “Kasey” is describing sounds a lot like what Ryan Grim reported a couple months ago. Grim’s story was about left-wing advocacy groups whose entire focus had been derailed because of corporate infighting over various woke priorities. One manager told him, “So much energy has been devoted to the internal strife and internal bullshit that it’s had a real impact on the ability for groups to deliver,” He added, “My last nine months, I was spending 90 to 95 percent of my time on internal strife.” And it sounds like something similar is happening at tech companies which have become hotbeds for DEI staff and outside consultants.

At Annie’s company, Qualtrics, Ibram X. Kendi was paid a “hefty sum of money” to peddle his ideology, which attributes all racial differences to racism, at a company-wide meeting. Afterward, an email was sent to all employees, declaring Qualtrics an “antiracist company,” she says. (“In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist,” argues Kendi, who charges $20,000 an hour for his talks and typically requires that in-person speaking events come with a first-class plane ticket for his travel.)

When a colleague of Annie’s posted on an internal message board that someone else should be invited to speak on the topic of race to expand the range of ideas heard — he recommended Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, Coleman Hughes, Glenn Loury, Bob Woodson, or Shelby Steele — people on his team suggested, publicly, that he resign.

I guess it would be better to have John McWhorter give a presentation at the company if they insist on hiring Ibram Kendi. But of course that’s never going to happen. DEI isn’t about encouraging debate on hot button topics it’s about making sure everyone feels pressured to adopt a far left viewpoint that a majority of Americans don’t share.