Federal Government Agency Latest Target of Assault on Diversity

In the past few weeks, the conservative crusade against affirmative action has widened its scope to include various levels of government. 

Jill Biden recently announced funding for the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. More information on this new funding is below. (Image credit: AP)

The first is aimed directly at the federal government. A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is guilty of discrimination. The agency was created during the Nixon administration fifty years ago to improve access to capital for minority-owned businesses. The judge, who was appointed by Trump, has ruled that such support is an illegal violation of the rights of all Americans. 

“If courts mean what they say when they ascribe supreme importance to constitutional rights, the federal government may not flagrantly violate such rights with impunity. The MBDA has done so for years. Time’s up,” wrote Judge Michael T Pittman in his decision, which stretched to 93-pages

As part of the ruling, MBDA was ordered to revise its programs to avoid further discrimination. This has potentially far-reaching implications for other government agencies that assist historically-disadvantaged communities. However, as of now, the ruling is limited to one federal agency. 

The attorneys for the Justice Department that represented MBDA countered that MBDA programs are open to any group suffering from social or economic disadvantages. 

The ruling from Judge Pittman is also internally inconsistent to some extent. On the one hand the court  acknowledges the existence of historical patterns of discrimination.  

Alphonso David, president and CEO of the Global Black Economic Forum, said the court’s decision acknowledged this historical disadvantage.

“Despite this recognition, the court somehow argues that a program created to remedy this discrimination must be dismantled. That makes no sense,” David said in a statement. 

To read the entire story, follow thee link below:


This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:

 Minority-owned business agency discriminated against white people, federal judge says

Oregon boasts a number of programs meant to increase racial and ethnic diversity across a range of professions, from teaching to farming to podiatry. These programs have been attacked by the conservative campaign to roll back affirmative action programs in government and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the corporate world since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned race-conscious college admissions last year.

One program in Oregon is a $192 rebate on teachers’ licenses. Created in 2019, the purpose of the rebate is to increase diversity among K-12 teachers in the state. A 2022 state report on educator diversity found that Hispanic students outnumber Hispanic teachers nearly 3 to 1, while the percentage of White teachers far exceeds the portion of White students.

Tyler Lynn, a Spanish teacher is not eligible for the rebate because he is a White male whose native language is English. Feeling slighted, he sued. And he is not alone, being one of a half-dozen plaintiffs who have launched challenges in recent months against various state programs.

Similar suits are being filed in other states as well. These legal actions are one more front in a conservative campaign to elimnate affirmative action programs in government and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the corporate world since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned race-conscious college admissions last year.

Legal experts say programs like the Oregon teachers’ rebate are ripe targets, in part because nearly every state and locality has one or more that benefit women, minorities and other underrepresented groups.

Joshua P. Thompson is the director of equality and opportunity litigation at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm representing many of the plaintiffs, including Lynn.

“We are firing on all cylinders now,” Thompson gloated. “We haven’t scratched the surface,” he said.

In the corporate world, CEOs who believe that business owners should value the interests of people and the planet as well as shareholders find themselves ostracized or even targeted as well.

One example is Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. He has been an advocate, has crusaded for stakeholder capitalism, the idea that businesses should have a social conscience and agenda.

For example, Salesforce offered to relocate employees who were concerned about being able to get an abortion in Texas and spoke out against Georgia and North Carolina for passing laws that would allow LGBTQ  discrimination.  

These “woke” beliefs have angered conservative activists who say he’s committed the unforgivable sin of sacrificing profits for politics.

For now, Salesforce is standing its ground, but one has to wonder how long it will do so. Recall our previous stories about how two prominent law firms buckled under pressure from the American Alliance for Equal Rights. 

The Oregon story appeared in the Washington Post. The link is below, but it is behind a paywall:


The story of Benioff can be found at this link:


Two: New UN Women Report Calls for Action on International Women’s Day

The continued attack on all things related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion comes news that DEI is as necessary as it’s ever been.  

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, a study conducted by the TEAM LEWIS Foundation in support of HeForShe shows that the cause of gender equality has been adversely affected by many causes. These include poverty, conflict, climate change and the aftermath of COVID. 

HeForShe is the United Nations Women’s entity for engaging men and boys in support of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

According to the study, nearly half of those surveyed (47%) did not realize that world events such as war and conflict can increase incidents of gender-based violence against women and girls. 

Furthermore, inflation is an ongoing problem, impacting more women than men. COVID still has adverse repercussions on everyone, but once again, the consequences are worse for women than men because women are overrepresented in service industries that were more deeply harmed. Perhaps not surprisingly, 72% of respondents did not realize the differential impacts.  

“The cause of equality has slowed in the face of Covid-19, conflict and economic challenge. Re-prioritizing investment in women is essential to the success of companies, countries and future generations,” said Inez Odom, Vice President, Professional Development for TEAM LEWIS. 

Gender equality does not rank high on the list of priorities for many people. Health Care (43%), Climate Change (29%). Poverty (26%), and Safety (25%) were seen as more important than Gender Equality. 

Given that HeForShe seeks to engage men to advocate for gender equality, one interesting aspect of the report is noting the areas where women want men to step up their support. According to the report, women would like to see men use their voice to advocate for both equal pay (47%) and family-friendly policies (40%). When asked what men can do to help provide equal opportunities, women said men should advocate legislation for equal pay (31%), help with household chores (25%), and childcare responsibilities (24%).

As for specific areas where women believe men can provide more assistance, women would like to see men advocating for equal pay legislation (31%), the taking over of household chores (25%), and childcare responsibilities (24%). Beyond this, people are also ready to see their governments invest in women.

As a final note, The report Highlights: 

  • Women in Business: Only 20% of individuals globally say their CEO is a woman.
    • Companies founded solely by women receive less than 3% of all venture capital investments.        
  • Gender Inequality in Health: A third of women (33%) have had access to employer-provided health insurance, compared to almost two fifths of men (37%).  

For the full press release, please see the link below:


For the full report, please use this link:


Three: The Health Care Hoax: Employers Hurt Themselves by Offering Inadequate  Health Insurance 

A wittier person than me described American health insurance as “an umbrella that melts in the rain.” A new study confirms this assessment and demonstrates how the situation is even worse than we realize.

Paytient is America’s foremost provider of healthcare affordability solutions. They recently released a study that found a shocking 40% of Americans who are employed, and who have health insurance through their employer, delay seeking care due to cost. A big reason for this is the high deductibles found in most health insurance plans. The study showed 45% of covered Americans did not meet their deductible in a given year. The high deductible essentially means that even “covered” employees are forced to  self-insure because most people will not satisfy a deductible in a “normal” year.

Some points about the survey:

  • All respondents have employer-sponsored health insurance from their workplace:
  • A majority make more than the average American.
  • 46% of respondents hold managerial positions or higher.
  • Nearly one-fifth make more than $100,000 or more a year.

So a significant portion are reasonably affluent. We do need to mention that women make less than men, and are more likely to be working service jobs with minimal benefits. So any negative effects are likely to fall disproportionately on women.

The problem is ever-increasing health care costs. These increased costs pus employers to offer plans with ever-higher deductibles to save money because such plans are cheaper. They also hide the true cost of the plan from workers by keeping the employee portion of the cost of the policy artificially low. The real cost only reveals itself if an employee actually files a claim.

Plans with higher deductible plans are not new and most Americans understand this problem. While many tests–such as lab work–are “covered”, that coverage doesn’t kick in until the deductible is met so the employee delays seeking medical attention as long as possible.

Here is the irony of the situation: by trying to save money, employers are effectively encouraging their workers to work while sick. Thus productivity suffers, directly impacting the bottom line. In the case of mental illness or chronic pain, this lack of productivity can stretch into a period of years. If an employee comes in sick, how many other workers will also become sick? Again, productivity will suffer. 

The root of the problem is the focus on the next quarter’s profit. Health care premiums show up in financial reports; decreased productivity does not. Since managerial salaries and bonuses often depend on hitting quarterly targets, managers almost always choose to cut visible costs while allowing productivity to slip. And so everyone loses.

Notable Insights from the Survey:

  • 40% of respondents have delayed care due to how much it would cost.
  • 69 million workplace insured Americans didn’t meet their deductible in the prior year, and had to pay out of pocket for all non-preventive care. 
  • 45% of employed Americans with insurance didn’t meet their single coverage deductibles in 2023.
  • On average, they were $1,482 short of meeting their deductible.
  • 1 in 6 respondents reported their work was affected due to a health issue they couldn’t afford to treat.

Of those who said their work was impacted:

  • 69% of respondents admitted to being distracted by pain at work.
  • 31% of respondents report a panic attack at work.

 Of those affected by delayed care:

  • 19% of respondents have spent time working second jobs during work hours to make money for healthcare.
  • 31% have lied to their boss about what they are doing while dealing with delayed care consequences. 
  • 17% of workplace-insured Americans have left their jobs to afford better healthcare.
  • 18% of workplace-insured employees have been unable to pay a medical bill under $500. 

To read the full report, please use this link:


Four: Women’s Health Gets More Support From Biden

Last month we reported that First Lady Jill Biden announced a grant of $100 M dedicated to research on women’s health. The executive order authorizing that grant–and more–was signed by President Joe Biden on March 18, 2024. The order will direct the most comprehensive set of executive actions ever taken to expand and improve research on women’s health.

These directives will ensure women’s health is integrated and prioritized across the federal research portfolio and budget, and will galvanize new research on a wide range of topics, including women’s midlife health. The purpose, said Jill Biden, is to “build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center.” 

The initiative arises from Jill Biden’s belief that “(I)t is long past time to ensure women get the answers they need when it comes to their health—from cardiovascular disease to autoimmune diseases to menopause-related conditions.”

 To pioneer the next generation of discoveries, the President and the First Lady launched the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, which aims to fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research in the United States.

In his State of the Union address, President Biden proposed a vision to  transform women’s health research, thereby improving women’s lives all across America. The President called on Congress to make a bold, transformative investment of $12 billion in new funding for women’s health research. This investment would be used to create a Fund for Women’s Health Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance interdisciplinary research  and to establish a new nationwide network of research centers of excellence and innovation in women’s health.

The President and First Lady are also announcing more than twenty new actions and commitments by federal agencies.  These initiatives will work through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). This includes the launch of a new NIH-wide effort that will direct key investments of $200 million in Fiscal Year 2025 to fund new, interdisciplinary women’s health research

Link to previous PW story, 2/9/24:

Links to White House announcements regarding the initiatives:


Link to NPR story:


Five: WFBoston Launches Research Project in Partnership with UMass Lowell

Despite the gains made by women in attaining post-secondary education, significant barriers to women’s participation remain. In particular, Women of Color and minorities face challenges that other groups do not.

To help rectify this situation the Women’s Foundation of Boston (WFBoston) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell recently announced a partnership to help identify barriers women face. This project will identify barriers women in Gateway Cities face when pursuing postsecondary education and workforce training.

A Gateway City is defined as a midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies across Massachusetts, Examples of such cities in Massachusetts Lowell, Worcester, and Springfield, with populations ranging from 100-500 people. Despite their size, these cites are often under-resourced and lack sufficient women and girl-serving programming.

The collaborative program will be led by Yanfen Li, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in UMass Lowell’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, 

This five-phase project will analyze data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to identify subpopulations that are least likely to attend postsecondary institutions. High school seniors and recent graduates from designated school districts will be interviewed about their post-graduate plans. Researchers will then conduct focus groups with current postsecondary students to identify key educational and social supports. 

“…This research will allow us to better understand the unique challenges of women and girls in Gateway Cities, which will shape our future initiatives and partnerships. We look forward to working with Dr. Li to support women and girls in our Gateway Cities to change the trajectory of their lives,” said Christina Gordon, Co-Founder and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Boston.

Gateway Cities across show an average of only 54% of women actively plan to attend an institution of higher education. Increasing access to educational resources in these cities is a crucial step to empower young women to further their education and improve their financial health.

With the final report, WFBoston and UMass Lowell will be able to better identify and respond to difficulties that women and girls experience in furthering their education and becoming financially independent and successful leaders.  The information gathered can also be used by policymakers, community organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and elected officials to develop solutions that can be translated across industries and regions.

“Through my ongoing work at UMass Lowell to increase the representation of women in the STEM workforce, I have seen firsthand the obstacles that women and girls face when accessing postsecondary education and workforce training,” said Professor Yanfen Li. “We are grateful for this new partnership with WFBoston and know that this research will be a catalyst for bringing new opportunities into the Gateway Cities.”




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