Applier Beware: SCOTUS Overturns Affirmative Action

The U.S. Supreme Court, on June 29, voted 6-3 to “curb affirmative action in higher education,” thus ending about ...

The U.S. Supreme Court, on June 29, voted 6-3 to “curb affirmative action in higher education,” thus ending about 40 years of precedent that allowed colleges and universities to “broadly consider applicants’ race in their admissions processes.”

This is huge and much has been written about it already as to how it will affect college admissions practices moving forward.

Yet, it may not end with “just” higher education:

The ruling could well affect affirmative action in the workplace in several different ways:

  1. It could “disrupt” DE&I efforts.

First, it could mean fewer employment opportunities for members of historically underrepresented communities, which could include, as the SHRM article explains, the Supreme Court’s ruling could impact recruiting and hiring efforts and ultimately lead to fewer employment opportunities for minorities.

“One of the fundamental values of higher education is preparing students to be successful in their careers and communities. Anything that impacts college access [for minority populations] can exacerbate gaps in employment, skills and advancement opportunities.”

In other words, DE&I efforts could decrease at employers who hire many college graduates if fewer members of minority populations earn bachelor’s and advanced degrees.

  1. The ruling could “stifle companies’ ability to consider racial diversity in hiring.”

NPR interviewed Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman in early July. According to Feldman:

“[T]he Supreme Court decision was about Title VI of the civil rights laws, which covers higher ed. But the question that we have to worry about for the workplace and workplace diversity is a different part, Title VII, which covers workplace discrimination. And Justice Gorsuch wrote a separate concurrence to say that, in his view, there is absolutely no reason for the law under Title VII to be any different from the law under Title VI because they use extremely similar words to prohibit discrimination.

“…if racial diversity is no longer a permissible justification for affirmation action in higher-ed admissions, it would also no longer be a permissible justification for considering racial diversity as part of affirmative action in hiring.”

(The interview goes into some detail as it discusses Feldman’s previous statement in another interview that “practically no lawyer advising a client today could assure the client that it would still be lawful to consider race in hiring.” We therefore highly recommend that you read it at the link above.]

  1. Chances are that DE&I efforts will only decline if employers make it their absolute priority.

There is NO law that says an employer can’t implement its own DE&I efforts.

Yet because human focus tends to decrease over time unless required, we predict that employers will lower their DE&I work/programs over time.

Or, as one DE&I expert put it in the SHRM article mentioned above, the Supreme Court’s decision “will be a stress test for those [companies] who have made many pronouncements [regarding their focus on DE&I]. Truly committed organizations will allocate the resources and innovate as necessary to ensure diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures and workforces.”

Many companies – ourselves included – didn’t initially understand how much impact the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action ruling on education could have on hiring itself.

That’s why we’ve written this post: to help not only our clients and prospects understand the ruling’s impact on “hiring-adjacent” initiatives but also to say this:

Dexian is continuously expanding our own DE&I efforts.

Our company is more diverse and inclusive, and we’ve noticed how much happier our team members are, how much they’ve grown in their skills, and their enjoyment of working here.

We’ve also grown and now offer additional services and expertise to our prospects, both clients and candidates.

Whether you’re looking for your next professional team member or your next job opportunity, we hope you’ll drop us a line and begin a relationship with us.