Amidst ongoing debates surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, an MSNBC report revealed that in 2020, companies collectively spent a staggering $8 billion on initiatives aimed at fostering diversity and inclusion within their organizations. The revelation was highlighted during a segment from the now-canceled Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC, where Hasan engaged in a discussion with author Robin DiAngelo about her book “Nice Racism,” DEI, Critical Race Theory, and related themes.
During the interview, Hasan probed DiAngelo about the efficacy of corporate spending on DEI workshops and whether such substantial investments merely serve as a superficial solution, akin to providing companies with “racism get out of jail free” cards. DiAngelo cautioned against a one-time, checkbox approach to DEI efforts, emphasizing the need for sustained and consistent commitment. She stressed that a complex issue like racism cannot be remedied through a singular workshop, requiring ongoing and dedicated attention.
DiAngelo delved into the adaptive nature of racism, pointing out its evolution into forms such as voter suppression and legislation that impedes discussions on racism or the teaching of civil rights history. She characterized racism as a dynamic and enduring challenge that necessitates continuous engagement through racial training initiatives. DiAngelo further advocated for the use of “affinity groups” in DEI training sessions, suggesting that certain aspects of DEI may benefit from segregated discussions, with individuals grouped by race to explore specific elements more effectively.
The resurfacing of this conversation amid discussions surrounding Claudine Gay’s departure from Harvard and Bill Ackman’s criticism of DEI initiatives has reignited debates around the efficacy, depth, and sustainability of DEI programs within corporate settings. DiAngelo’s insights during the interview shed light on the complexities of addressing systemic racism and underscored the necessity of persistent efforts rather than relying on one-time interventions.