Asian American lawmakers urge Fortune 100 companies to reaffirm DEI commitments

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Asian American lawmakers are urging Fortune 100 companies to uphold diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts amid backlash from conservative opposition.

What it’s about: On Tuesday, the executive board of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) revealed that they sent a letter to the CEOs and heads of America's Fortune 100 companies, which are the top 100 largest U.S. companies by revenue, urging them to reaffirm their commitments to hiring and promoting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI). Led by CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (D, CA-28), the initiative seeks to gauge the progress of DEI practices for AANHPI within these organizations amid the ongoing fight against anti-Asian hate.

"With this letter to Fortune 100 companies, we will determine whether the largest businesses in America have followed through on their promises and encourage them to continue this crucial work – even in the face of assaults on diversity, equity, and inclusion from Republican officeholders,” Rep. Chu said in a statement.

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The Congressional Black Caucus sent a similar letter to Fortune 500 companies about their DEI commitments back in December 2023.

Why it matters: CAPAC’s letter comes amid increasing pressure on companies to address workplace diversity in the U.S. Despite heightened efforts following the surge in anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic, the representation of AANHPIs in corporate leadership remains starkly disproportionate.

Leaders of advocacy organizations, including the National Urban League, have sent their own letter to companies in support of DEI initiatives.

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“We believe it is imperative that CEOs and other company leaders are able to make strategic decisions for their companies without threats of frivolous lawsuits and political pressure, and we will be here with support, every step of the way,” the groups wrote.

Holding efforts back Over the last two years, Republican legislators across 20 states have introduced approximately 50 bills aimed at restricting or outright banning DEI initiatives in universities and public institutions, according to the Associated Press. The conservative lawmakers have been framing the programs as discriminatory and ideologically driven. Democrats have responded by countering with their bills promoting DEI measures.

In January, a Texas state law that prohibits the operation of DEI offices in higher education institutions forced the University of Texas at Austin to shut down its Multicultural Engagement Center.

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