Google, Apple back affirmative action in Harvard case

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Google, Meta and Apple are among nearly 70 companies filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of affirmative action programs being challenged at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The brief filed Monday argues corporate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts “depend on university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments.”

“Only in this way can America produce a pipeline of highly qualified future workers and business leaders prepared to meet the needs of the modern economy and workforce,” the brief said. The cases are the first on affirmative action to come before the justices since conservatives gained a 6-3 majority.

另一份由科技公司提交的简报预计也将于周一提交。

与2003年密歇根大学法学院(University of Michigan Law School)的一起案件一样,签署“法庭之友”(amicus)或“法庭之友”(friend of court)协议的公司数量大致相当,它们提出平权法案是企业必须要做的事情。在最近的两起涉及德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校的案件中,很少有人加入了类似的行动。

阅读更多:接下来是什么?Intersectionality to play a critical role in ongoing DEI efforts

然而,这一次,企业面临着对采取进步立场的企业的保守反弹的风险。

Diversity, equity and inclusion advocates say it’s still important for the business community to make its voice heard.

“This is the perfect time for the corporate world to not just sit on the wayside,” said Lael Chappell, the director of insurance distribution at Coalition who works on diversity, equity and inclusion issues.

In the latest cases,Students for Fair Admissions v. HarvardandStudents for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, the plaintiffs say affirmative action not only hurts white applicants, but amounts to an “anti-Asian penalty,” too.

UNC responds that race is only one of “dozens of factors” that the school “may consider as it brings together a class that is diverse along numerous dimensions—including geography, military status and socioeconomic background.”

阅读更多:Family-building benefits may be key to equity and inclusivity in the workplace

“Empirical studies confirm that diverse groups make better decisions thanks to increased creativity, sharing of ideas and accuracy,” the companies said in support of the universities.

“These benefits are not simply intangible; they translate into businesses’ bottom lines,” they said.

And the increasingly global nature of business makes diversity even more important today that it has been in the past, the companies argued.

Yet, the environment has changed considerably in the six years since the Supreme Court last ruled in an affirmative action case.

机构投资者研究机构可持续投资研究所(Sustainable Investments Institute)的执行董事海蒂•威尔士(Heidi Welsh)表示,股东们正在推动公司披露员工的种族和性别数据。她说,另一项新的、独立的推动重点是公布种族正义承诺。

Weighing in on politically controversial issues also carries new risks as stakeholders like employees and legislators press companies in different directions, The Conference Board research group warned in a May 2022 report.

阅读更多:Why sponsorship — not mentorship — may be the key to helping women advance their careers

Risks were evident this year when Walt Disney criticized a Florida law that limits what teachers and administrators can discuss with young students regarding sexual orientation after intense employee pressure.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he viewed Disney’s public comments against the law as “provocation,” and vowed to “fight back.” Weeks later, Florida lawmakers stripped the entertainment giant of is its decades-old special tax status.

More recently, Sidley Austin received a letter from a group of Texas state legislators threatening to sue and hold criminally liable the global law firm’s partnership after announcing it would pay travel expenses for employees seeking abortions in states where they are outlawed. The Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion in June.

“There’s so many moving pieces,” Chappell said. “You hope for the best, of course. You want to see a world where these things are really appreciated for the impact they can truly have. But it’s definitely a period of uncertainty.”

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