Drug giant Pfizer says its top-level “Breakthrough Fellowship Program” that prohibits whites and Asians from applying is a “Bold Move” that promotes “a more inclusive workplace,” and will have Pfizer led by “a new generation” of minority fellows by 2025.
“One of Pfizer’s Bold Moves is to create a workplace for all, and we are committed to increasing diversity by fostering a more inclusive workplace,” says Pfizer, one of the Big Pharma companies at the center of the controversial COVID-19 vaccines.
The “requirements” for application for the fellowship include U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency, at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA), and “meet the program’s goals of increasing the pipeline for Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic and Native Americans.”
Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told The Star News Network the Pfizer policy is blatantly illegal:
We’ve seen a significant proliferation of this kind of woke idiocy among major institutions over the last several years. Race discrimination in employment remains unequivocally unlawful, yet leadership at many major institutions seem to think this form of what used to be called “reverse discrimination” is a virtue signal to their fellow elites.
Kirsanow, an attorney, observed the woke policy could seriously backfire on more than one level:
It comes at a significant cost–and not just in terms of liability. Twenty years ago, before the proliferation of “anti-racism,” Gallup reported that 74% of whites and 68% of blacks thought race relations in America were good. By July, 2021 those numbers had cratered to 43% and 33% respectively. The spread of overtly discriminatory policies such as the one at issue undoubtedly contributed to this decline.
Pfizer justified its “Bold Move” fellowship on its website:
Pfizer has launched a Breakthrough Fellowship Program – a nine-year commitment to increase minority representation at Pfizer, designed to enhance our pipeline of diverse leaders. The Breakthrough Fellowship Program, first-of-its-kind, works to advance students and early career colleagues of Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic and Native American descent with a goal of developing 100 fellows by 2025.
In a video about the policy that excludes whites and Asians from applying, one smiling Pfizer employee states:
What we are intending here is that by 2025 we will have a generation of 100 new leaders at Pfizer coming from underrepresented groups and lead on this organization.
Another employee explains how the “new leaders” will become embedded into the culture at Pfizer:
The program is a 10-week internship, followed by 2 years of employment, followed by a 2-year fully funded graduate degree, and returning to Pfizer at the manager level.
Gail Heriot, Kirsanow’s colleague on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told the Washington Free Beacon Pfizer’s fellowship policy is a “clear case of liability,” in violation of both the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contracts, and the 1964 act that bans racial discrimination in employment.
“Major corporations seem to have forgotten that there’s such a thing as law,” said Heriot, who is also a law professor at the University of San Diego. “They seem to think that as long as they’re Woke, they’re bulletproof.”
The Free Beacon reported other comments it received from attorneys regarding the Pfizer policy:
David Bernstein, an expert on civil rights law at George Mason University School of Law, said the Breakthrough Fellowship was “obviously illegal.” Dan Morenoff, the executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, called it a “very facial violation” of Title VII. Jonathan Berry, a partner at Boyden Gray & Associates, said it was “hard to see any way” the program was legal.
“As students receive mentoring and professional development, they also will have the opportunity to grow within the organization, which will lead to parity at all levels to create a vibrant culture where every colleague has the opportunity to succeed,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO, in the announcement about the Breakthrough Fellowship Program’s website.
The Star News Network reached out to Pfizer for comment on whether the company will continue with the policy as announced, and whether it would also support a company whose fellowship application policy banned minority groups, with acceptances only for whites and Asians. No immediate response was received.
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Pfizer Headquarters” by CoolCaeser. CC BY-SA 4.0.