Critics of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are latching on to a new initialism dubiously similar to DEI. Meet “MEI,” short for “merit, excellence, and intelligence,” and coined by Alexandr Wang, cofounder and CEO of Scale AI, a startup valued at $4 billion that provides companies with labeled data used to train artificial intelligence models. “MEI,” according to a blog post authored by Wang, represents a “hiring principle” that ensures one “[hires] only the best person for the job.”

Hiring based on merit has benefited Scale, Wang argued, as the company landed opportunities like partnerships with OpenAI and the Department of Defense. And the startup will continue to take this approach instead of “pick[ing] winners and losers based on someone being the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ race, gender, and so on,” Wang added.

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