Tech companies like Google and Meta made cuts to DEI programs in 2023 after big promises in prior years

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Google, like many tech companies, pledged to implement new programs to support Black employees and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Google’s commitments included goals to improve representation of underrepresented groups in leadership, increase the number of Black workers, and enhance support for the mental and physical health of Black employees. However, by mid-2023, data from job site Indeed reveals a concerning trend — DEI-related job postings had declined by 44% compared to the previous year, with a 23% year-over-year drop in November 2023.

This decline is part of a broader trend observed across the corporate landscape, where companies initially pledged significant investments to improve diversity in their ranks and support external DEI-focused organizations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing. Notably, both Google and Meta have implemented staff cuts and downsized programs associated with their DEI initiatives.

Smaller, third-party organizations specializing in DEI have also felt the impact of these cutbacks, despite the continued growth of major tech companies. The reductions in DEI-related budgets and initiatives signal a departure from the commitments made by companies in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Some organizations, which had initially doubled down on their DEI commitments, are now scaling back these efforts.

Melinda Briana Epler, founder and CEO of Empovia, a company advising on a research-based culture of equality, notes that economic downturns in the tech industry often result in cuts to DEI budgets. However, the stark contrast observed in 2023 raises concerns about the sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts. Devika Brij, CEO of Brij the Gap Consulting, which works with tech companies on DEI, points out that some clients have slashed their DEI budgets by as much as 90% by midyear, signaling a significant shift in priorities within a relatively short timeframe.

The retreat from DEI commitments underscores the ongoing challenges in achieving and sustaining meaningful progress in diversity and inclusion within corporate environments, even as awareness of these issues has grown in recent years.