Attorney General Ford Joins Coalition of Attorneys General Defending Diversity Initiatives Against Unfounded Attacks

June 20, 2024

Carson City, NV — Today, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced he has joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul in issuing a letter to the American Bar Association (ABA), Fortune 100 company CEOs and other leaders to refute baseless attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and programs.

"The ongoing, unwarranted attacks on DEI initiatives in this country are based on legal falsehoods and efforts to intimidate companies and organizations into disregarding diversity and equality,” said AG Ford. “DEI programs are an important step toward remediating racial inequities, and efforts to dismantle these programs are based on disingenuous arguments at best and outright maliciousness at worst.”

Today’s letter comes in response to one sent to the ABA by another group of attorneys general on June 3 falsely claiming that the association’s standard on diversity and inclusion violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (SFFA). That letter was the most recent of several attempts made by opponents of racial equality to expand the reach of the Supreme Court’s ruling far beyond its scope.

    Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2023 ruling that higher education institutions generally may not consider race in admission decisions, groups seeking to dismantle broader programs aimed at reducing racial inequities have attempted to use the ruling to justify their actions, which have included intimidation and phony legal challenges.

    After the 2023 ruling, AG Ford led other attorneys general in sending a letter to business leaders applauding corporate efforts to recruit diverse workforces and create inclusive work environments; clarifying that these programs remained legal; and calling on the companies to maintain their commitment to diversity-focused programs.

    AG Ford and the coalition note that the ABA standard’s requirement that law schools provide “full opportunities to the study of law and entry into the profession by members of underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities,” is something schools must already do under the U.S. Constitution and antidiscrimination statutes. The standard does not require that law schools make admissions decisions based on race or ethnicity and, in fact, does not mention admissions at all.

      The attorneys general write in today’s letter that recent studies show diversity efforts in corporate America are making progress toward achieving equitable representation in corporate workforces, leadership and boards. NAME and the coalition describe how companies with diverse leadership teams are associated with higher financial returns and higher social and environmental impact scores. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity show an average 27% financial advantage over others. Companies in the bottom quartile for ethnic diversity are 24% less likely to outperform. Companies in the top quartile for ethnically diverse boards are 13% more likely to outperform than those in the bottom quartile.

      In addition, the attorneys general note more than half of consumers believe companies that issue a statement supporting racial justice must follow up with concrete action. In fact, 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social issues. In addition, 78% of adults in the United States support businesses taking active steps to ensure that companies reflect the diversity of the American population.

      Joining AG Ford in signing the letter led by Illinois are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.