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Following increased calls for racial justice spurred by the death of George Floyd, many organizations have pledged to support the Black community and play their part in dismantling systemic racism. One common step that leaders take is to invest in diversity programs. Despite bold claims to value diversity and billions of dollars invested in related efforts, workplace discrimination continues to be a major factor in the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. Further, the American public remains substantially divided in their views of diversity programs. Many Americans value diversity, while others believe diversity efforts have gone too far. The current study employed a mixed-methods survey to explore attitudes about diversity efforts and how these beliefs shape workplace decision-making. Our analysis of open-ended responses reveal that many individuals support organizational diversity in theory, yet subtly resist inclusion. This resistance reflects abstract liberalism, the foundational frame of color-blind racial ideology. Compared to those who acknowledge discrimination, those expressing abstract liberalism are more likely to believe Blacks are responsible for their own poor outcomes in the workplace and less likely to recommend a Black male for a promotion. Our findings also reveal that even those who both openly acknowledge discrimination and believe diversity is an important goal rarely take action to counter structural inequality. We discuss these findings in the context of shifting racial attitudes and whether such a shift will lead to broader systemic change that benefits Black employees.

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Presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2020. Under review by journal.