Is DEI About Process Or Results?


Is DEI About Process Or Results?


Leonard Zwelling

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal on May 15 describes controversial steps taken by the appointed chief diversity office of the state of Virginia, Martin Brown, a black Republican, who is quoted as saying, “DEI is dead.”

Mr. Brown’s point was made in a speech to the Virginia Military Academy that the goal should be “promoting that (the already diverse and inclusive United States) and then expanding it and tearing down tribalism and divisiveness.”

“Making the discussion about outcomes rather than merit is the ‘wrong mission’ for the military college…generally when you are focusing on equity, you’re not pursuing merit or excellence or achievement.”

We should strive for equal opportunity without a preconceived notion of the outcome.

Of course, the Democrats in Virginia are screaming for Mr. Brown’s firing by Governor Youngkin, but Brown is doing exactly what the voters of Virginia wanted when they elected Youngkin.

There can be little doubt that DEI has been taken too far in both directions. It is not inherently as great as the liberals think, nor inherently as evil as conservatives think. It is just another process to further equal treatment of all. If it is that, then it may not be so bad at all, but it seems to some to be far more than that as this blog has noted repeatedly. DEI is not about results. It’s a process.

Like affirmative action before it, DEI can be a useful means to an end, but it can also be a blunt instrument of discrimination, particularly against white, straight men.

I have no facile answers for decades of discrimination. How could I? My people have been dealing with it for 3500 years. If California is really going to grant reparation payments to those who can trace their ancestry back to slavery, I want reparations from Egypt and while you’re at it, a little bit from Russia for the pogroms my grandparents had to evade by coming to America.

The real problem here is that you cannot regulate history. You can know it. You can acknowledge it. You can understand that certain groups were treated unfairly in the United States just as other groups were maltreated in other places in the world. I never considered asking for anything tangible for the antisemitism my father had to withstand. All I wanted was a chance. That, I got.

If DEI is used as a process to create greater equality, I think that’s just fine. If it is used as a way to further sever Americans from one another and tribalize groups of Americans against one another, it’s a bad idea.

Mr. Brown has this pretty right in Virginia. It is not so much that DEI is dead. It’s that like so many other extreme movements, it has been misused. It’s time for some correction. Change the E in DEI from equity to equality and we may be making progress.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

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2 thoughts on “Is DEI About Process Or Results?”

    1. Leonard Zwelling

      If the result is the goal, then DEI will not work. As a part of the process to assure fairness, it might be OK. It depends how it is used.

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