Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) vowed to fight attempts to end the racial equity and inclusion policies used by private corporations.
“Let me be clear: diversity is not a threat — it’s an asset,” Brown said in response to a threat of legal action by 13 Republican attorneys general. “Diversity initiatives address longstanding disparities that continue to persist in our society, while also enriching business, sparking innovation, and fostering greater understanding among individuals from various backgrounds and experiences. Embracing and supporting diversity is a moral imperative and smart business.”
Thirteen Republican attorneys general sent a letter to Fortune 100 companies earlier this month warning of possible legal action because of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.
In the letter, the attorneys called for “race neutral policies.” They called diversity efforts “an inversion of the odious discriminatory practices of the distant past, today’s major companies adopt explicitly race-based initiatives which are similarly illegal.”
The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
“We will not allow false claims and intimidation tactics to deter businesses from promoting diversity and equity in their workplaces,” Brown said in his statement. “It is my duty to stand up for the rights of every Marylander, including Maryland businesses who seek to expand their workforces, and I will vigorously oppose any attempts to hinder progress towards a more fair, just, and equitable society in our State.”
The July 13 letter cites a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. The June 29 ruling ended the use of race as a basis for admitting students to colleges and universities.
“Instead of celebrating the advancements made by many companies in creating inclusive work environments, these attorneys general seek to stifle efforts to reduce inequities and impede progress for those seeking equal opportunities,” said Brown. “Labeling diversity initiatives that create a level playing field as ‘discrimination’ is unfounded, misleading, and harmful. Companies are well within their rights to establish diversity and equity programs aimed at addressing historical inequities and improving representation for marginalized communities.”
Brown also signed on to a July 19 letter that 21 Democratic attorneys general sent to the Fortune 100, urging the companies to “double-down on diversity-focused programs because there is still much more work to be done.”