Former Facebook and Nike DEI official sentenced to prison for $5 million fraud scheme


Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a former senior Facebook and Nike diversity, equity, and inclusion official, has been sentenced to five years in prison after defrauding her employers out of more than $5 million. 

Furlow-Smiles, a resident of Marietta, Georgia, oversaw Facebook’s DEI programs from January 2017 to September 2021. She used her position at the company to fake business deals in exchange for kickbacks, stealing more than $4.9 million. 

After being terminated from Facebook, Furlow-Smiles led Nike’s DEI initiatives as senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. There, she stole over $120,000 between 2021 and 2023. 

At both companies, Furlow-Smiles used access to corporate credit cards, phony paperwork, and her authority to make purchases and approve invoices for vendors to commit fraud. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced the charges, stating that Furlow-Smiles had pleaded guilty to stealing from her employers to fund her luxury lifestyle. 


The popularity boost that DEI initiatives saw following the massive Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 has now suffered from blowback, with politicians targeting them in schools, government, and companies.  

Research about the flourishing impact of DEI initiatives that were once celebrated has been challenged with new studies, and a recent Supreme Court ruling banned affirmative action in college admissions. Now, schools across the country are scrapping DEI requirements.

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