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Diversity-based hiring in Texas could be illegal

With House Bill 1006 eliminating “diversity, equity and inclusion” in offices across all public colleges and universities in the state, Governor. Greg Abbott’s office warned earlier this month that state agencies hiring based off inclusion is illegal. Photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore/ Wikipedia Commons

Some people say it is refreshing to feel like their workplace is diverse and inclusive, it shows how their employer and hiring team care about creating an environment where everyone has equal access to opportunities. Yet, this hiring process may be illegal soon, at least for universities in Texas. 

Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott’s Office warned state agencies and public university leaders that relying on hiring on diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives is illegal in the hiring process. 

According to the Texas Tribune, Abbotts’ Chief of Staff Gardner Pate informed agency officials in a written memo that implementing these policies violates federal and state employment laws and how hiring decisions cannot be made based on these factors “other than merit.” 

In this memo, Pate went on to write how these initiatives can illegally discriminate certain demographic groups.  

“Diversity, inclusion and equity has been manipulated to push other policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to others,” Pate said. 

Even though Pate did not specify which demographic groups, this directive message appears to be the latest attempt by Republican officials in Texas to fight back against these policies because they consider them unfair and regarded as “woke” initiatives.  

One might consider these demographic groups that Pate and Republicans might be referring to are white individuals, as conservatives have argued these policies at school and workplaces enforcing diversity and inclusion are unfair to them. 

This recent news may shock people and generate concerns about what this would mean for hiring agencies in universities across Texas. But it is not the first time Texas legislators raised the question of making this process illegal. 

Just last year, House Bill 1006 was filed during a Texas legislative session as lawmakers drafted this bill with the idea of eliminating “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” in offices across all public colleges and universities in the state.  

With any controversial bill, many people across the state had mixed feelings about this bill and the kind of damage it would cause to universities in Texas. In an article about this proposed bill, Chairman Rep. Ron Reynolds gave his own reasonings on why he does not agree with this bill.  

“I think it’s out of touch with the great diversity of Texas and the overwhelming minority population. It’s a bill that is unjustified,” Reynolds said.  

Some can argue that the decisions made by these hiring departments are basing their decisions on race and sex. Though, it is not the case as some people are not aware of what these policies aim to do. 

In a recent article, Andrew Eckhous shared his stance on these policies for people who are not more aware of them.  

“Anti-Discrimination laws protect Americans ensuring that employers do not make hiring decisions based on race or sex,” Eckhous said. “While these initiatives work with those laws to encourage companies to accept applications from a range of applicants, which is beneficial and legal.”  

For some people walking into a workplace for the first time and getting a sense you are the only woman, a person of color, or maybe the only LGBTQ person there can feel daunting and challenging. Due to you knowing there is a chance you are going to have to work much harder to get the same opportunity as your coworkers.  

Unwanted biases can also result from a work atmosphere lacking diversity and inclusivity, which leads to a toxic workplace. It is something individuals should not have to deal with. When people go to work, they should be able to see both themselves and society there. 

These initiatives are deemed necessary as they represent underrepresented groups while promoting an atmosphere emphasizes fair treatment and boosts representation. While at colleges, these offices concentrate on assisting students of color to remain enrolled and complete their degrees. 

If this bill were to be passed, this would undo hard work many people worked on and leave these underrepresented groups back to being underrepresented in the workplace and at universities across the state.  

Erik Acosta is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta, Web/Copy Editor
Erik Acosta is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in theatre. Erik started working at The Prospector as staff reporter spring 2023, and now serves as the web and copy editor.
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Diversity-based hiring in Texas could be illegal