December 21, 2023 Less than a minute read

Legal experts try to ease businesses fears after affirmative action ruling by U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s June decision banning colleges and universities from considering race as a factor in admissions has raised concerns for employers over diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives in the workplace. Legal experts, though, said the ruling shouldn’t keep businesses from continuing efforts to support a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

During a recent webinar, Taylor Dewberry and Kerry Shad, attorneys with Smith Anderson law firm, said there is no immediate or direct legal impact on private employers. Dewberry and Shad said employers can still commit to a culture of inclusion and should maintain their Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies. Employers are not legally required to make any changes to DE&I, EEO or affirmative action policies if the organization’s practices comply with existing employment law.

Despite the reassurances, the attorneys note they are seeing legal challenges to some employer DE&I efforts and expect more to come.

The attorneys provided some “do’s and don’ts” for employers.


  • Don’t use protected categories, such as race, to decide who to hire or promote,
  • Don’t set aside positions to be filled by a woman or racial/ethnic minority,
  • Don’t set a quota for a specific number of individuals to be hired based on a protected class.


  • Do conduct outreach to diversity-focused recruitment sources to identify a strong pipeline of diverse talent,
  • Do provide non-exclusive mentoring programs aimed at supporting diverse talent within a company,
  • Do provide skills-based training to develop employee skills to be better qualified to move into other roles,
  • Do have other policies and practices to champion and promote diversity from within.


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