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Saturday, August 29, 2020

The DIVERSITY Paradigm

Lipton Matthews

Achieving a diverse workforce is a major goal of leading organizations in the West. Management gurus passionately market diversity as a strategy to boost firm performance, with some even implying that it solves the problem of institutional racism. Promoting a diverse workforce is not an unworthy objective, after all, an environment conducive to fostering eclectic perspectives will yield new insights. For example, if Estée Lauder only solicited the opinions of white women during focus groups, this would be extremely troubling, since it caters to all women. Therefore, we must acknowledge that there is a case for some interpretations of diversity. Because justification for some forms of diversity is plausible, it seems more likely that what critics oppose is not diversity, but rather the claims undergirding the diversity movement. Few recognize that arguments in favor of identity-based diversity are inherently contradictory and, in some scenarios, racist.

When liberals argue that an organization lacks “diversity,” they are usually noting that women and minorities are underrepresented. Yet they fail to assert why the paucity of women or blacks, for example, in STEM is objectively bad. One concurs that foreign ideas can enrich the quality of scientific research, though the relevant issue is the observation of the individual providing the breakthrough, not his race or sex. Noted black biologist Ernest Everett Just made significant contributions to science, due to talent and grit. Being black did not endow Just with any special intuition unique to black people, thus making him a stellar biologist. More women and blacks flocking to STEM would not be a negative, however, increasing the representation of these groups is no reason for celebration. Quality in all areas depends on the competence of the actors involved; therefore, diversity based on race, gender, or sexual orientation is irrelevant. Nevertheless, in specific situations accounting for ethnic diversity when assembling research teams may prove fruitful. Admittedly, international institutions seeking to discover why some indigenous groups oppose modern medicine should ascertain the views of native scientists for firsthand testaments.

Furthermore, assumptions of the diversity movement are also contradictory. Prominent thought leaders like Angela Saini argue that race is a social construct. Hence if advocates of diversity agree that this assertion is true, then how can they legitimately promote racial diversity, when race is just a social artifice? Since races do not exist, then the notion of racial diversity is a misnomer. As such, when liberals deny the fact of race and by extension racial differences among different populations, then their argument for diversity appears illogical. Because races do not exist, there are no intrinsic personality differences attributed to race, as a result, we are left with only individuals of various hues. Therefore, in this context activists should clamor for intellectual diversity, but this is unlikely since most of them are only interested in identity politics.

Yet many identitarians continue to invoke the fiction of racial diversity to garner support for their initiatives, which promote discrimination on the grounds of race. In a recent piece, Heather Mac Donald clearly explains the reverse racism of diversity programs in America: “Mandatory diversity statements are now ubiquitous in hiring for science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs. An Alzheimer’s researcher seeking a position in a neurology lab must document his contributions to “diversity, equity and inclusion. At the University of California, Berkeley, the life sciences department rejected 76% of the applications it received last year because they lacked sufficiently effusive diversity, equity and inclusion statements. The hiring committee didn’t even look at the failed applicants’ research records.”

Ironically, diversity is supposed to be an antidote to systemic racism, but instead, proposals of reformers explicitly promote racism. Activists are simultaneously denying and affirming the primacy of race. On the one hand, race does not exist, yet nonwhites bring a distinct outlook to science on an account of their skin color. These contradictory positions are obvious to normal people. Careful analysis, however, reveals than when examining their claims for gender diversity, the inconsistencies are even more prevalent.

Being woke requires us to believe that gender differences do not exist and if they do, they are insignificant. Indeed studies have shown that the tendency of women to display empathy, sympathy and other features of nurturing is effectively corroborated by evidence. So, we ought to be unsurprised that in advocating female representation, supporters often contend that women bosses are more supportive of their staff. Clearly, if research suggests that women are inclined to be nurturing, then female managers would naturally create a welcoming environment. Appreciating the uniqueness of men and women does not justify sexism. It is inane to reject gender differences between the sexes and argue in the same light that women possess special attributes thus making them superior bosses.

Similarly, some believe that by citing reports showing that having more female employees boost profitability, they are doing women a favor. But the profitability argument may, in fact, reinforce discrimination. Making competitiveness the reason for hiring women also presupposes that if women workers are unproductive then they should not be recruited. On the flip side, one study finds that women are about 15% less productive than men. Lower productivity levels among women may be a consequence of a litany of causes, including an inflexible climate for working mothers. Now, suppose employers were to embrace these results uncritically by discriminating against women, the outcome would be less diversity.

Additionally, the belief that women have better prospects under female bosses is still very common. This conclusion, however, is not backed by evidence. Reviewing the literature on the subject matter, the Economist notes: “Women managers do not appear to be partial to female underlings, which may help explain why female board quotas have no effect on management’s gender mix.” Likewise, we frequently hear that women experience more incivility than men, but according to Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona, the perpetrators are mainly other women.

In contrast to how many may feel, diversity based on identity politics is not intrinsically valuable. For example, minorities who studied at Ivy League schools have more in common with upper-class whites than their working-class peers. So, we cannot therefore automatically assume that identity based diversity would be an asset to the corporate world.

Image: Pixabay


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