U.S. retail firm eliminates DEI roles, goals due to 'disappointed' customers

50,000-employee company also withdraws support for Pride festivals, voting campaigns

U.S. retail firm eliminates DEI roles, goals due to 'disappointed' customers

US-based retail firm Tractor Supply has announced that it is eliminating roles for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) amid growing anti-DEI sentiments in the US.

In a statement, the company also said it will retire its "current DEI goals while still ensuring a respectful environment."

The company, which has 50,000 employees across 2,250 stores, did not disclose how many staff members will be affected by pulling back on its DEI strategy.

It made the move after feedback from its customers, whom they labelled "family" in the statement.

"We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them. We have taken this feedback to heart," the statement read. "Going forward, we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business."

Other withdrawals announced

Eliminating DEI is just one of the measures carried out by the retail company. It also announced that it will "stop sponsoring non-business activities like Pride festivals and voting campaigns."

It added that it will no longer submit data to the Human Rights Campaign and withdraw its carbon emission goals to focus on land and water conservation efforts. Other initiatives they're taking include:

  • Refocusing its Team Member Engagement Groups on mentoring, networking, and supporting the business
  • Further focusing on rural America priorities including ag education, animal welfare, veteran causes

"We will continue to listen to our customers and Team Members. Your trust and confidence in us are of the utmost importance, and we don't take that lightly," the company said.

Growing anti-DEI sentiment

Tractor Supply's announcement came amid growing opposing sentiments against DEI measures across organisations.

Just recently, the CEO of a tech start-up introduced an alternative hiring principle called MEI, which stands for merit, excellence, and intelligence, that saw waves of support from other executives.

CEO Alexandr Wang said MEI does not "unfairly stereotype, tokenize, or otherwise treat anyone as a member of a demographic group rather than as an individual."

The hiring principle has stirred up debate due to concerns that eliminating DEI strategies, such as in recruitment, will reintroduce or reinforce biases in hiring.

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