December 18, 2023

Elon Musk Says ‘DEI Must DIE’, Equating It To Racism And Sexism

“DEI must DIE,” Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, boldly declared in a Twitter/X post on December 15. “The point was to end discrimination, not replace it with different discrimination.”

The South African Tesla and Twitter/X owner doubled down the following day, adding, “‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ are propaganda words for racism, sexism and other -isms. This is just as morally wrong as any other racism and sexism.”

Who benefits from DEI?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives aim to rectify historical and ongoing discrimination by providing equal access and opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.

However, the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling has reenergized calls to end DEI initiatives, claiming these schemes disadvantage white and Asian people.

However, as the Financial Times reports, white women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action programs.

Moreover, white men continue to be overrepresented in top positions within the workforce and white women hold a significant advantage over women of color.

Growing attacks on DEI

Nevertheless, notable figures like billionaire hedge fund manager and Harvard alumnus Bill Ackman are among the growing chorus pressuring institutions to abandon DEI, claiming these programs prioritize diversity over academic excellence.

Ackman called for the resignation of Claudine Gay, Harvard’s first Black president in its 368-year history, suggesting she was hired because of DEI initiatives.

University donors, including Ross Stevens of Stone Ridge Asset Management, have threatened to withdraw substantial donations for similar reasons.

Forbes reports that GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma, Florida, Iowa, and Texas have also signed executive orders limiting state funding for DEI initiatives in public colleges. Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis went as far as banning DEI funding and limiting how race can be taught in college classrooms.

Read: Fearless Fund Appeals Court Ruling In Lawsuit, Continues Fight For Black Women Entrepreneurs

Is it time for DEI to die?

While skeptics question the success of DEI initiatives, evidence suggests that various programs have yielded positive results.

For example, Intel its achieved diverse supplier goals eight years ahead of schedule, and the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement saw people of color comprise the majority of new hires at S&P100 companies.

Additionally, recent reports indicate positive growth in small business loans for Black-owned businesses and increased diversity on corporate boards.

Despite these achievements, critics argue that companies need to recalibrate their DEI strategies.

According to the Guardian, Johnny C Taylor Jr, president and CEO of the Society of Human Resource Management, believes that 2024 will be a “reset moment” for DEI policies.

“The question is how companies can say ‘we aspire to be more diverse’ without being prescriptive.”

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)