On diversity, again

I’ve seen the weakness of too many organisations run by white athletic men in suits. The lack of diversity leads to group-think, shut out of capability, limited creativity, and loss of motivation except amongst the clones. People get listened to and promoted because of their BMI, teeth, and hair, not their ability.

They make the argument that “diversity for diversity’s sake” results in lower standards. I believe that argument to be fallacious and exposing the embedded prejudice. The argument only works if one assumes that people of differing backgrounds are inherently less competent than the monoculture in power. “Diversity for diversity’s sake” reduces performance only if people from other groups are less able. If you instead believe that people from all groups are equally able, then drawing talent from a wider pool must increase capability. That’s before we also take into account that having a range of perspectives enhances problem solving and invention.

Diversity for diversity’s sake is a straw man. The implication is that candidates get an easy ride for being different. That’s just privilege reinforcing its position and making it harder for others. The reality I have seen is invariably the opposite: diverse entrants have to be that much better just to get in, because everybody knows they will have to fight exactly this prejudice.

The other reality I have seen is that they are considered substandard because they play the game differently, or they refuse to be part of a cozy club, or conform to stereotype expectations of who they are or who they should be. I.e. When the entrenched group evaluate outsiders according to their own standards, then they will see them as inferior when they are just different. They also tend to make it harder for outsiders to succeed just so they can confirm their own prejudice. Seen that one too. Being a consultant gives one an interesting grandstand view at times.