It’s all too easy to get riled up over comments on the internet. The anonymity of your phone or computer allows people to feel safe to say some things that they would never dare to say aloud, especially when it’s clear that there’s an audience for inflammatory nonsense. X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has become a cesspool of hot takes that rage bait the audience, and Elon Musk is very often at the center of many of these conversations.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The conversation in question this time surrounds Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. DEI initiatives are policies that call for a certain number of people of color in the workplace, as well as conversations around ableist policies and accommodations – both physical and mental – for different types of needs.

Source: Wikimedia/Steve Jurvetson / Steve Jurvetson

The heads of many companies, particularly those run by more conservative individuals, have been openly critical about DEI initiatives in the past. Conservative commentators have come out and said that DEI initiatives are classist, racist, or ableist in their own way, and Elon Musk is no exception.

Musk Attacking DEI Initiatives

Comments on X, formerly known as Twitter, from Elon Musk stoked a conversation about DEI. He claimed that “discrimination on the basis of race, which DEI does, is literally the definition of racism.” This is an old talking point that’s been used by those against DEI initiatives, claiming that choosing to hire people of color over caucasians is racist against white individuals.

Source: Twitter/X/elonmusk

Musk takes the rhetoric one step further in his tweet, though. He goes on to claim that DEI initiatives are not only immoral, but they are also illegal. His comments drew a swath of comments from his internet base, many of whom lean more politically conservative, but he also drew the attention of one of his own peers.

Mark Cuban Has Entered the Building

Mark Cuban, the former Shark-Tank judge and the owner and CEO of Cost Plus Drugs – a company that seeks to lower the cost of prescription medication by selling directly to the public – took exception to Elon Musk’s characterization of DEI initiatives.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Peoria

Cuban is very left-leaning in his online spaces, and has gone out of his way to defend leftist policies such as universal healthcare and DEI initiatives. This latest round with Elon Musk is not the first time that Cuban has come up against deep conservative rhetoric on Twitter/X, and he had some opinions to share about DEI initiatives.

DEI Initiatives Are, In Fact, A Good Thing

Cuban offered a lengthy rebuttal to Musk’s comments, explaining why he believes that DEI initiatives are essential to the health of modern businesses. He explains that good businesses look for individuals who are not only a good fit for a position, but also those that bring a new perspective that might have been overlooked otherwise.

Source: Twitter/X/mcuban

He stated bluntly that internalized biases often result in individuals of different lifestyles, color, and experiences being excluded from the get-go by different recruiters. DEI initiatives ask that the hiring net be expanded to include these individuals who are historically overlooked, allowing for better competition in the job market.

Not Just For People, But For Business

He also came at the issue from a business perspective, not just an equity perspective. According to Cuban, hiring people from different walks of life allows for businesses to better serve their customers. It enables them to encompass a wider swatch of customers, and make them feel comfortable and welcome in an environment that can initially feel hostile.

Source: Twitter/X/mcuban

He also stated that he believes that equity principles allow for a greater amount of success among employees. Feeling comfortable and supported in a work environment is a crucial component for employees to stretch themselves, and Cuban appears to be a big proponent of encouraging success in his workers.

DEI Is Not A Checklist

Cuban was also critical of individuals and companies who approach DEI initiatives as a checklist item, or something that is onerous and expensive to accomplish. He implied that these businesses are lazy, or that they are only truly interested in the bottom line of success rather than the work it takes to get there.

Source: Twitter/X/mcuban

“When companies do DEI, you see a successful, well-run company,” he concluded, closing out his argument. Cuban is clearly a proponent of looking at all angles of success rather than profit, which makes sense when his business history is brought to light.

Conservatives and Liberals Responded Predictably

Musk’s and Cuban’s comments drew a whole swath of different people to the conversation, whose thoughts fell largely along predictable ideological lines. Conservatives sided with Musk, claiming that DEI initiatives are “racist” or “a waste of time.”

Source: Twitter/X

Liberals agreed with Cuban. Many stated that DEI initiatives allowed for the workspace to be equal for everyone, not just white men. Some even implied that DEI initiatives are a step in the right direction, but that there’s still a ways to go before the workplace could be considered completely equal for everyone.

DEI Initiatives Go Back Decades

Musk’s comments about DEI initiatives are not revolutionary. DEI initiatives have their roots in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and since then have expanded to include gender, sexuality, and other factors to consider when hiring.

Source: Wikimedia/Rowland Scherman

The argument that using DEI initiatives somehow discriminates against those who are in power has been used since the concept was introduced, and it likely will not be going anywhere anytime soon. The conversation is an important one to continue having, though, as the world and what we know about people and different lifestyles evolves.

DEI Isn’t Going Anywhere

Internet discourse has never, and will never be, the beginning of new legislation regarding policies as important as DEI initiatives. The stark difference in CEO opinions regarding the policies is fascinating, though, and it will be interesting to see how the thoughts of the public change as time passes.

Source: Wikimedia/Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota

As far as DEI initiatives themselves, it’s unlikely that they’re going to go anywhere. They’re an important part of the American promise of equality, and no amount of complaining on the internet is going to change that.