Big Tech is trying to save college affirmative action. A slew of tech companies, including Meta, Google and Apple, filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday signaling support for affirmative action programs at Harvard.
Students for Fair Admissions is alleging that Harvard's race-conscious admissions process discriminates against Asian students, violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harvard has said affirmative action is necessary to achieve a diverse student body. The Supreme Court added the case to its docket in 2021.
More than 65 companies signed onto the brief, including Adobe, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and Salesforce. The companies argue that the capacity of universities to admit racially and ethnically diverse student bodies is extremely relevant to them, as universities serve as large talent pools. Corporate DEI efforts depend on "university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments," the brief states.
"Businesses really rely on universities to identify and prepare potential leaders," said Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the tech lobbying group Chamber of Progress, which signed the brief. "That's why preservation of the current approach to admissions is really important."
This isn't the first time businesses have thrown their support behind affirmative action in universities. The brief notes that in previous cases challenging race-consideration in admissions, businesses have highlighted the need to admit diverse student bodies. But this is the first affirmative action case to come before the court under its 6-3 conservative majority.
"This is a case that could have a pretty significant impact on the college-to-tech industry pipeline," Kovacevich said. "That's why you saw so many companies supporting this brief."