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Hiring insights reveal progress in DEI

If you were impacted by layoffs this year or you’re reading the news at all, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious by all the reporting on the end of DEI. How could you not be?

Over the past year, media coverage of DEI has increased 383%. There is a lot happening right now and it’s hard to make sense of it all.

In June the Supreme Court rolled back affirmative action in higher education. State-level legislation in Texas and Florida followed, banning DEI programs at public universities. Since then, several stories have emerged suggesting that overall corporate investment in DEI is dropping due to mounting legal and cultural pressures.

Except the data tells us this isn’t true.

We analyzed hiring trends to determine if companies are still prioritizing diversity in recruitment while also investing in roles that will advance DEI initiatives. What we uncovered counters the common narratives you’re seeing all over the news.

The use of terms like “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” in job listings has actually increased in the last year

When examining language trends related to diversity in job postings as a whole, we found that commitments to hiring a diverse team are still a priority.  

In fact, the term "diversity" has seen a full percentage point increase this year, while all other related terms like “equity,” “inclusion,” “DEI,” and “People of Color” have seen slight increases in usage across the board.

DEI language holding strong in 2023 graph from Textio

Despite the popular narrative that corporate diversity is decreasing alongside the overall decline in jobs, diversity language is actually up year-over-year. Furthermore, the growth of diversity terms overall indicates that companies are still committed to this work, just as they were last year, in spite of slowed headcount growth and the spread of anti-DEI rhetoric.

Hiring for all roles is down — but DEI job listings remain some of the most resilient YoY

Overall job listings are down. This is not surprising given economic uncertainty has fueled layoffs and corporate contraction this year.

However, while DEI roles have declined along with other roles, they have remained significantly more resilient than several jobs that are conventionally viewed as more consistent. In fact, software engineering (-54.71%) and marketing roles (-54.33%) have declined at 1.5x the rate of DEI roles (-37.61%).

DEI work carries on for people invested in it

When you take a step back and look at what’s actually happening, there is plenty to be optimistic about. Invested organizations remain committed to diversity. In fact, I’ve had several conversations with executives this month who are doubling down on their investments.

The point is, the work carries on. If you find yourself at an organization that isn’t serious about hiring and retaining a diverse team, you have options.

Recently Dr. Evelyn Carter joined Kim Scott, Jackye Clayton, and me on the Real as Feedback podcast to talk about DEI backlash: the phenomenon where people who feel threatened by DEI work engage in aggressive and misleading attacks against it. On the show, we theorized that these attacks arise out of fear: fear that organizations will continue to invest in DEI initiatives and fear that those initiatives might actually work. What we can see in current public hiring data is that most organizations are not backing down.

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