The Job Market's Booming Demand for 'Diversity Specialists'

In a recent discussion about the "wokeness" situation in American universities, Prof. Kimberly Johnson presented a table showing the salary compensation data for DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) personnel at Michigan State University (MSU) in 2018–2019.  It contains 82 full-time positions ranging from a modest $42,000 salary for the administrative assistant to $408,000 for chief diversity officer (that's just above the salary of the POTUS, at $400,000).  The total annual compensation for DEI staff at MSU is $10.6 million.  Isn't that too much for one university?

The number of students at MSU is approximately 50,000; the staff consists of 5,500 academics and 7,400 administrators.  So one DEI specialist should ideologically serve, on average, 767 people.  The Soviet Union, mind you, could not afford such a luxury.  In 1970, for example, the population aged 15–59 was 142.6M; the number of paid party employees ("nomenklatura") on all levels was 99,505.  That's 1,433 adults per one party bureaucrat (of course, an exact comparison is impossible; all figures here and below are given just to demonstrate the level of magnitude).  Assuming that no more than 20% of "apparatchiks" worked exclusively on the "ideological front," each Soviet bureaucrat was responsible for 7.5 times as many minds as their counterparts at MSU.  In reality, that number was even higher — in my university, with its many thousand students, there was just one full-time paid party secretary; all the rest was done by countless "volunteers," who combined their main work with party activity.  America has no such mass "volunteering" (although there are calls in this direction); the DEI business is given into reliable, professional hands.

It is important to note that these DEI workers usually do not even deliver the presentations; they just organize them.  The actual job is done usually by professionals.  The star of this business, Prof. Ibram Kendi, charges from $10,000 to $20,000 per lecture, according to a special investigation.  His main thesis of "antiracism" postulates that any disparities among various racial groups on different metrics (income, level of education, etc.) are explained just by one factor: "white racism" (and the only remedy to it is "reversed discrimination").  Similarly, Prof. Robin DiAngelo, with her "white fragility" concept (the basis of an extremely popular DEI ideology of "people salvation" from unrecognized or self-denied racist sins), charged an average of $14,000 per speech in 2021, twice as much as she did in 2018.  Demand for "truth" is growing fast.

The median level for a "DEI Manager" salary was $124,383 (as of October 29, 2021).  Such a salary is not bad for warriors of "justice," especially compared with the U.S. median level of $51,470.  The figures for MSU now begin to look less exceptional.  As with many times in history, the fearless fighters for everybody's "equity" are somehow not exactly equal to others when it comes to personal income.

Multiple DEI consulting companies offer their services, adding flavor to this booming market.  Even their titles reflect the richness of the endeavor, from the strict "The Racial Equity Institute" to the business-like "The Management Center" to the playful "Two Brown Girls," which sounds more like an ad for erotic entertainment than a boring equity establishment.

If MSU's and other figures above tell us anything, there are many thousands of "DEI specialists" around the country (more accurate estimates are hard to obtain), who have sprouted up like mushrooms after the rain, watered by the riots of Summer 2020.  Who are they? 

A check on one of the most popular job search websites, made on November 24–26, 2021, gave the following results (figures show the number of literal matches): "racial equity" — 5,218; "diversity" — 2542; "DEI" - 11,355; "antiracism" — 1056; "anti-racism" — 3,518; "diversity equity inclusion" — 19,800.  Many of those terms likely overlap in jobs description, but a safe estimate is about 20,000 unique positions.  The number of businesses in the USA with employees over 500 is 42,800.  Most likely, only large companies of about that size can afford to open one or two paid positions for DEI cadres.  This means that roughly half of large U.S. businesses have open DEI positions right now.  (Some companies have more than one open position.)  It is clear, though, that demand for 20,000+ DEI specialists is really high — much higher than for "mathematician" (121), "physicist" (1,711), "chemist" (4,304), and even "journalist" (2,530).

I also looked at ten randomly selected postings about DEI positions.  Six companies required a bachelor's degree; four others did not.  Among the job requirements were "deeply passionate about DEI and employee engagement," "Passion for staff development and DEI in education," and "Challenge assumptions and/or potential biases in self and others."  Practically all postings say candidates should possess the "Ability to track and report on DEI program metrics."  It is more or less clear what those "metrics" mean: what percent of a certain race is here or there.  One announcement was especially telling.  A bachelor's degree for Racial Equity Specialist was preferred, but not required.  Here's what was required: "Mathematical skills: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide…, using whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals."  A wise company, I thought — they know what to expect from applicants and are trying their best to prevent the even worse situation.

Now, what are those "DEI specialists" doing?  What exactly is their job?  Frankly, I cannot imagine the everyday activity of 82 people in MSU, and thousands more in the country, eight hours per day, day by day, month by month, year by year.  Racial problems and conflicts cannot just appear from nowhere, going from near invisibility five to ten years ago to a booming market now.  When people occupy paid positions without a clear purpose, they should do whatever they can to demonstrate their usefulness and propagate their very existence, as any bureaucracy does.  They should invent new "racially charged" situations.  How else can that time and money be justified?  Assuming they can all add and subtract, they should add all the cases of "inequity" and subtract the cases of "equity" from them in such a way that some inequity will always be present, and they must not care, in the process, what is real and what is not.

This situation illustrates perfectly how it works.  A law professor once called a sudden cropping of problems to a scene in a classic horror movie "cockroaches crawling out of the walls of a house."  Intentionally or not, some understood this phrase as a comparison of the minorities with cockroaches.  The DEI office immediately made a loud case of it, but, remarkably, when the mistake was revealed, the office didn't drop these completely baseless charges.

A new army of very busy semi-literate people is taking up places almost everywhere.  This ideological conquest is supported by strong material incentives.  It is the best way to make "equity of outcomes" real, as it was done once in the Soviet Union: everyone was equal to each other on the lowest possible level of poverty and intellectual degradation.  There is no possibility for any other "equity" if it is not stopped.

Image via iStock.

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