Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are a form of discrimination and must end, billionaire Elon Musk said Friday, his latest tirade against political correctness and “woke” culture amid growing criticism that his social media platform X is amplifying hateful and antisemitic content.
“DEI must DIE,” Musk said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
DEI initiatives are intended to create safer and fairer work environments and focus on ensuring equal access and opportunity for people who face historic and ongoing discrimination and are underrepresented in the workforce through schemes like dedicated training, mentorship opportunities and hiring programs.
Musk argued that while the point of such schemes “was to end discrimination,” they have served to “replace it with different discrimination.”
Musk’s comments fit within a broader movement of primarily right-wing criticism of and pushback against DEI initiatives among lawmakers and public figures—who brand them leftist schemes that disadvantage and discriminate against particular groups in the name of equality, predominantly white men—and comes as university donors like billionaire Bill Ackman ramp up pressure on institutions to ditch the initiatives and claim they prioritize diversity over academic excellence.
The comment comes days after Musk criticized reports that compensation for IBM executives would be tied to their ability to meet DEI goals when hiring.
Musk, responding to a leaked video of IBM CEO Arvind Krishna discussing the policy that was posted on X, branded the scheme “extremely concerning and obviously illegal.” (IBM did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.)
Critics claim DEI schemes unduly disadvantage white men, a group that has traditionally not faced exclusion from the workforce and benefits from historic and ongoing systemic discrimination against other groups, such as women, Black people and LGBTQ+ people. The topic has become a flashpoint of the U.S. culture war between left and right political ideologies and opposition to DEI has galvanized the far right, who successfully fought to have the Supreme Court rule against affirmative action schemes in college admissions.
Musk, a white man born in South Africa, has increasingly aligned himself with far right figures as an advocate of free speech and opponent of “wokeness” and political correctness. He recently said he purchased Twitter in 2022 to stop the “woke mind virus,” referring to what he said is a liberal ideology that pervades media and entertainment. Advertisers have fled the platform as he rolled back safeguards against hateful speech and reinstated a bevy of banned accounts, including Donald Trump and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He has recently faced—and forcefully rejected—allegations of antisemitism after posting content endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory. It is not the first time Musk has been accused of antisemitism, for example in May when he posted a series of attacks against George Soros.
$253.2 billion. That’s how much Forbes estimates Musk is worth. He is the richest person in the world by a comfortable margin, leading second place French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault by more than $50 billion. Musk’s wealth largely derives from companies he cofounded and runs, including electric carmaker Tesla, aeronautics firm SpaceX, brain implant company Neuralink and tunneling enterprise Boring Company.