Quick Takes

Poll finds majority of Kentucky voters think DEI should be left up to businesses, institutions

By: - February 13, 2024 11:23 am

Kentucky Capitol (Getty Images)

A majority of Kentucky voters believe businesses and institutions should make their own decisions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs without politicians’ input, a new poll found. 

According to results released Tuesday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, a poll of 625 registered Kentucky voters found 71% believe businesses and institutions should be allowed to make decisions regarding their DEI education and training programs without government interference. The poll also found that 26% responded they believed businesses and institutions should not and 3% were unsure. 

The polling comes as the Republican-controlled General Assembly considers some legislation that would curb DEI in public education. So far, one bill, Senate Bill 6, has received a committee hearing. 

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, which has a 2.7 out of 3 stars from FiveThirtyEight, conducted the poll between Jan. 30 and Feb. 4. The margin of error was no more than plus or minus four percentage points. 

By phone, voters were asked: “Do you feel that Kentucky businesses and institutions should or should not be allowed to make decisions regarding their own diversity, equity and inclusion education and training programs without government interference?”

By political party, 74% of Democrats polled said businesses and institutions should be able to make their own decisions about DEI, as well as 67% of Republicans and 72% of independent voters. Additionally, 27% of Republicans polled thought businesses and institutions should not make their own decisions about DEI, as well as 25% of Democrats and 25% of independents. 

During the committee hearing on SB 6, the bill’s primary sponsor Senate Republican Whip Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green, said “when the prohibitions and discriminatory concepts are reviewed, the vast majority of Kentucky will find the limitations to be common sense and uncontroversial.” 

“The discriminatory concept prohibitions listed in this bill do not prohibit diversity initiatives,” Wilson said at the time. “They prohibit initiatives that would tend to pit ethnic groups or possibly two genders against each other.” 

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has been a proponent of DEI initiatives, particularly for businesses who have them and want to relocate to the commonwealth. 

“We talk about equity and it’s something we should all want in our heart, everyone to have true opportunity not held back by hundreds of years of unequal treatment,” the governor said during a recent Black History Month celebration. “And just think about inclusion. It’s what we teach each and every one of our kids how we’re supposed to approach this world as one people, one Team Kentucky.”

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.