White Victims Of Racial Discrimination Are Starting To Sue More Often
11/05/2023
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Earlier (2006): Diversity Quote-As At Gannett

From the Washington Post business news section:

A newspaper giant tried to diversify its staff. White workers sued.

The proposed class-action lawsuit against Gannett is among a wave of recent cases claiming some corporate diversity policies disadvantage White employees

By Taylor Telford
November 4, 2023 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

… Filed in August in Virginia federal court, the suit alleges that Gannett fired White employees, denied them opportunities for advancement and replaced them with less-qualified minority candidates as the company sought to diversify its workforce.

The case is among the first to test the legality of corporate diversity practices in the wake of a June Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action in college admissions. That decision has sparked a wave of litigation aimed at racial considerations in the workplace, including claims that corporate efforts to increase diversity have disadvantaged White employees.

How could efforts to increase diversity not disadvantage white employees?

Private employers have been barred for decades from making employment decisions based on race. Long-standing legal precedent has allowed companies to take targeted, temporary steps to mitigate historic racial inequalities in their workforces.

We’ve had affirmative action in hiring since 1969. How temporary is that?

… In recent years, claims of race-based discrimination by White workers have made up only about 11 percent of charges submitted for review by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to data obtained by The Washington Post. But now many legal experts expect those numbers to soar. Westhill said race-based employee affinity groups, fellowships and grant programs exclusively for minorities are especially likely to face legal challenges, as are company policies that tie executive compensation to diversity targets.

Those targets are intended to promote racial and gender equity, which remains a struggle in corporate America. …

Leon Prieto [Email him], a professor of management at Clayton State University, said discrimination claims from White people often fail to acknowledge “the historical context” of workplace discrimination. “Historically speaking, many corporate cultures have been rooted in biases that favor Americans of European descent over others,” Prieto said. “This has been well-documented.”

But not the history of the last 54 years. That’s not well-documented. It’s all murky mists compared to the spotlight clarity of the Emmett Till era.

Indeed, the earliest efforts to tackle racial disparities in the workforce began in the 1960s and ’70s, when companies used racial quotas to combat those biases in hiring, Prieto said. Such quotas were later deemed unconstitutional; Prieto said some companies still overly emphasize racial diversity among new hires instead of taking the more modern view that “DEI is not just about hiring ethnic minorities, it’s about embracing all talent.”

As measured by hiring more ethnic minorities.

“A myopic focus on quotas doesn’t really address inclusion efforts,” Prieto said.

As the 1978 Bakke decision required, you aren’t allowed to call your quotas “quotas.” You must call your quotas “goals.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020, Gannett was among scores of corporate giants that made sweeping commitments to increase workforce diversity. The media juggernaut, which owns several hundred daily and weekly newspapers across the country in addition to its flagship publication, USA Today, repeatedly expressed aims to “reach racial and gender parity with the diversity of our nation,” according to the lawsuit. Along with other goals, the company set a target of increasing the number of people of color in leadership positions by 30 percent by 2025.

… In its 2022 inclusion report, Gannett highlighted progress toward its diversity goals, saying more than 16 percent of employees at the director level or higher were people of color, up 2.3 percent from the previous year.

I wish newspaper editors would carefully distinguish between percent increase and percentage point increase.

“People of Color and Women in leadership continues to grow at a faster pace than overall representation,” the report noted.

This progress came at a cost to White employees, the lawsuit claims.

How could it not?

Management directed leaders to exclude White candidates, as the company prioritized race over job performance and other professional qualifications, according to the complaint. Gannett also tethered executive performance to success with diversity goals, the complaint states.

“The implementation of this policy resulted in the termination of numerous well qualified workers based purely on their non-minority status,” the complaint states.

… Ultimately, Bradley said, he decided he had to speak out about his experience.

“Racism is racism, and right is right and wrong is wrong,” Bradley said. “Decisions should be based on the quality of a candidate and the quality of performance and not protected class issues. That’s really what it comes down to.”

Taylor Telford is a reporter covering corporate culture for The Washington Post.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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