ICAP Fellows Association Statement on U.S. Supreme Court’s Anti-Affirmative Action Ruling
Washington, DC — On June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled against Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s use of race in their admissions programs. This is a step backward in the pursuit of equality and justice and represents another step in the continued erosion of policies designed to support marginalized groups. It disregards the ongoing need for measures to address historic inequalities and hinders the progress we have made in creating a more inclusive society.
Diversity in higher education has the enormous potential to ensure diversity in all levels of U.S. government, non-profits, international organizations, academia, and the private sector. Affirmative action is a crucial tool for addressing systemic inequalities and creating opportunities for people of color who have historically faced discrimination. By limiting the use of affirmative action, this decision risks perpetuating existing disparities and impeding progress towards a more inclusive society.
Affirmative action does not mean preferential treatment or lowering standards. It is a nuanced and carefully crafted policy aimed at ensuring fairness and equal access. The decision to strike down or limit affirmative action overlooks the fact that diversity is not just an abstract concept, but an asset in fostering innovation, shared understanding, and progress. This ruling ignored the historical oppressions of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other communities of color and the need for explicit policies to undue harm.
As an organization seeking to improve the quality of the leadership of the United States in international affairs by helping to ensure that it reflects the full diversity of the U.S. population, the ICAP Association affirms that this decision does not weaken our mission or institution— instead it strengthens our conviction about our need to be stronger than ever in undertaking our mission.
For leadership to be legitimate, it should reflect the diversity of the population it leads. Decades of research have shown that diverse leadership produces more carefully considered and smarter decisions, and more diversity means more creativity, wider opportunities, innovation, and better adaptability to a changing world. Representation matters, and by undermining affirmative action, we are denying marginalized communities the chance to see themselves reflected in positions of power and influence.
We are resolved in our commitment to elevate, empower, and support mid-career professionals of color to effectively restructure U.S leadership and prioritize the need for policies that explicitly address access for communities of color. We further call upon academic institutions, the public and private sectors, and our government institutions to continue and expand efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the face of growing opposition. Collectively, we must endeavor to meet this moment.
Who We Are
The ICAP Fellows Association seeks to diversify U.S. leadership in international affairs in government, the nonprofit, and private sector. As professionals in the foreign policy field, the ICAP Fellows Association supports our Fellows through mentorship, networking, resources, and opportunities at international agencies and organizations in the U.S.