There is No DEI Backlash

Tynesia Boyea
4 min readMar 29, 2024


The idea of an anti-DEI backlash has fully been absorbed by the media. If the post-2020 narrative was all about a racial awakening, lately the narrative has been focused on how those racial justice protests overstepped and now people are pushing back on the idea of “woke” culture. Basically, the narrative is that we’ve gone too far and people who support racial equity and DEI initiatives need to be pulled back.

That’s all nonsense. When I’m out and about, talking to people about the work our partners and I are doing, there’s little shift in support. In fact, a recent survey shows that CEOs are not only still committed to DEI, but also believe it’s critical to their business. This includes both progressive and conservative CEOs. Unfortunately, the belief in an anti-woke backlash has had a chilling effect, muzzling leaders and spreading fear and confusion.

The definition of a backlash is a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development. However, DEI policies remain broadly popular. Americans understand that an inclusive workforce is a better, stronger workforce. ESG approaches also just make business sense. Even Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, understands this, and is willing to publicly say so.

So if there is no DEI backlash, how do we explain the sudden noise around DEI?

If we needed proof that the DEI backlash was all manufactured, the New York Times gave it to us. They published an in-depth article, exposing a coordinated campaign of conservative activists to manufacture outrage towards DEI and racial equity initiatives to further their own aims. This is not a grassroots movement. It is a well-funded campaign designed to divide Americans for political purposes.

For example, the Times found that the leaders of this so-called “backlash”, anchored within the Claremont Institute, were actually opposed to what they called “anti-discrimination” laws. Another way to label someone who is against “anti-discrimination” is that they are “pro-discrimination.” Many of those involved expressed views in support of a patriarchal society, disparaged LGBTQ individuals and referred to people from non-developed countries as “low IQ.”

I encourage you to read the article for yourself. But what’s important to understand is that this so-called “backlash” is driven by fear of losing power.

The Times quotes one email from a leader in this orchestrated movement:

“In support of ridding schools of C.R.T., the Right argues that we want nonpolitical education… No we don’t. We want our politics. All education is political.”

Our country’s ideals stand for liberty and justice for all. Sadly, these types of activists are choosing to fight for one group of Americans: white people. The power of DEI and racial equity is to fight for all Americans and not exclude groups from benefiting from everything that America has to offer. It’s about opening up the economy to everyone so all can benefit.

This is why the so-called “woke” movement won’t go away. It just makes business sense. As the country changes, our economy has to change with it. We have massive problems and we need massive solutions that only business can offer.

This is not about being “woke.” This is about good business. And the more we are aware that this is not a backlash, but a coordinated campaign to maintain power, the more responsibility we have not to cede our own power due to misinformation and fear.

What can we do to cut through the noise and maintain momentum? As I said in another post, what you do depends on where you sit:

Hold the Line: If your organization is rapidly retreating, then your main priority is to find ways to keep the commitment alive. As disappointing as this may be, you need to operate from where people are, not where you want them to be…

Join Forces: If your company has internally maintained their commitments to equitable impact but are externally clamming up to avoid the backlash, there’s a simple solution: Join (or form) a coalition. By doing things in a group, you provide cover for your company to continue to be more public about racial equity, because the coalition is not directly led by your company…

Lead the Charge: For those companies that are willing to be vocal — you have to be bold right now. You have to talk about why you are still pursuing these commitments and goals and that it doesn’t matter what politicians are threatening or what the media is saying. Your boldness reminds others that the backlash is amplifying the voices of a small few, but you represent the majority.

No matter where you sit, what’s most important is that you continue to fight knowing that there is a community of people like you doing the same. There is a backlash happening, but it’s against centuries of racism that have perpetuated the inequities we experience today. The real grassroots movement understands that these inequities must be solved. If we don’t back down and not allow ourselves to be afraid of a few well-funded actors, we can get through this and keep making the good business decisions we know help us do well BY doing good.



Tynesia Boyea

People grower, resource magnet, and translator committed to values-driven entrepreneurship. Read more at