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Published on June 20, 2024
Attorney General Kwame Raoul Leads Coalition Defending Diversity Programs Against Misconstrued Legal ChallengesSource: Google Street View

Attorney General Kwame Raoul, championing a group of 19 state attorneys general, has taken a public stand to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which have recently come under fire. In a concerted retort to opponents, Raoul's coalition dispatched a letter to the American Bar Association (ABA) and leaders in the Fortune 100, defending these programs against what they view as baseless legal attacks.

According to the statement obtained by the Illinois Attorney General's office, this move is a direct response to a previous letter sent by a separate cadre of attorneys general on June 3. That document wrongly alleged that the ABA's diversity and inclusion standards violated the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (SFFA), expanding the decision's implications well beyond its original context, a tactic used by those opposing racial equality to advance their agendas.

Raoul asserts that the efforts to undermine diversity do not stem from a legal basis. "The U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in SFFA addressed the limited context of race-conscious higher education admission decisions. It did not extend to all programs aimed at promoting diversity, equity and inclusion," he declared. The coalition argues that the ABA's standard merely calls for law schools to provide equal opportunity without mandating decisions based on race or ethnicity during admissions — a point that, in the June letter, opponents of these initiatives appear to have misconstrued.

Furthermore, Raoul highlights the benefits of diversity within the business landscape. He cites studies that show that companies with diverse leadership teams boast higher financial returns and improved scores in social and environmental impacts. Leading companies that champion ethnic diversity enjoy a significant 27% financial performance edge, as detailed in the letter. In the ranks of corporates, those falling at the other end of the spectrum, the diversity-deficient quartile, are 24% less likely to surpass performance benchmarks.

The attorneys general emphasize the popularity of diversity efforts, evidenced by consumer behavior and expectations. Over half of consumers expect companies to back public statements of racial solidarity with concrete action, and a commanding 78% of U.S. adults endorse proactive corporate initiatives reflecting America's diverse population. This wave of support covers a broad legislative and geographical landscape as attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have joined forces with Raoul.