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Anti-DEI laws have economic consequences in Kansas, Missouri


In Health Forward’s pursuit of building more inclusive, powerful, and healthy communities, one undeniable truth has emerged: we can’t achieve these goals without intentional focus on diversity, equity, inclusion. However, recent legislative trends have shown a concerning regression, threatening to undo the progress made in our journey toward a more just society. 

After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the pendulum of racial justice and inclusion swung toward equity but has since swung further back than before.   

In the United States, the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action, while states like Florida and Texas have outright banned DEI initiatives. Now, Kansas and Missouri find themselves at a crossroads, with proposed laws that could hinder diversity and inclusion efforts and have ripple economic effects across both states 

It was in this context that Health Forward Foundation decided to seek an outside perspective. We commissioned a study from The Perryman Group, an economic research and analysis firm based in Waco, Texas, to get an impartial, independent analysis on the economic impact of policies being considered to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in each of the two states. 

The results speak for themselves — and should concern all who call Kansas and Missouri home.

In Missouri, policies currently under consideration in Missouri which could be seen as discriminatory put the state at risk of losing nearly $2.6 billion in annual gross product and 23,842 jobs as of 2030.

In Kansas, policies under consideration which could be viewed as discriminatory put the state at risk of losing $898.4 million in annual gross product and 8,462 jobs as of 2030. 

Legislation perceived to be discriminatory — irrespective of their stated purpose or actual intent — not only harms communities of color but also jeopardizes the economic well-being of entire states. Travel and tourism sectors could suffer losses in the hundreds of millions annually, leading to decreased revenue for local governments, both rural and urban which rely on these revenues to support things such as infrastructure and education. Companies may be less likely to expand or locate in these states, particularly in industries with many knowledge workers. 

At a time of economic uncertainty, maintaining a welcoming environment for diverse talent and businesses is paramount.  

As we confront the challenges ahead, we must recognize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just moral imperatives but economic necessities. Kansas and Missouri must choose the path of progress, rejecting policies that undermine DEI efforts and hurt the economy, and instead embracing initiatives that foster prosperity for all.