The idea that the color of someone’s skin has anything to do with creating a “diverse” organization is, well . . . bigoted and racist. It’s a patronizing idea that could only emanate from guilty, pampered and clueless people who live in segregated suburbs, teach in pristine ivory towers, and generally see unicorns and rainbows everywhere. I find the idea to be offensive, but it is a core component of the catechism of official beliefs held by the Masters of the Universe in government, large corporations, and universities. This belief is so ingrained that few can see how abhorrent it really is.
Yes – I just called you a bigot and a racist – go find a Safe Space if you are feeling threatened.
Hiring for Cultural Fit
Your company’s diversity program isn’t really creating diversity in your workforce. Real diversity is about thoughts and ideas and doesn’t come from skin color or sexual orientation. Admit it – you don’t want real diversity in your organization. You are looking for cultural fit. You don’t want any of those people who challenge ideas and assumptions. And you definitely don’t want someone who will tell your CXO’s that their brilliant idea is they dumbest utterance ever spoken. In most cases, an ideal employee is a sycophant who will stroke the soft and fragile feathers of your mollycoddled executives and managers. The perfect employee keeps his mouth shut in order to keep his job.
To me, the idea of cultural fit is all about hiring people who will go along to get along. It is about hiring people who won’t challenge the status quo in your organization. Those people are easy to find and they come in all races, shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations. Their resumes all look exactly alike and your HR people are experts at identifying them in only 12 seconds. “This one’s different – chuck it in the garbage.”
A black and white issue?
Many organizations look at diversity as a binary issue. “We’re a diverse organization” can often be translated as: “Look, we have black people working here.” A slightly different translation is: “Look, we have white, black, yellow and brown people, all in the proper proportions working in harmony. Hakuna Matata!” A purple female veteran in a wheelchair gets quadruple bonus points for the EEO Report. Even better if she is a lesbian and don’t worry that she has no actual skills.
One company I worked for hired a brilliant Chinese woman with a Ph.D. in physics for a specific management position. She and I had lunch together often and we always had lively discussions. I was more than a little bit smitten with her because a great brain is the first thing I am attracted to in a woman. The only problem was that she was a terrible manager. Rather than fire her, or get her training in management skills, the company created a new position under her to do the real management work. I don’t know what the rationale of the executives was, but I have always suspected that she fulfilled some diversity quota that they thought they needed. Unfortunately, the executives weren’t fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. Other employees just found it maddening and demoralizing. Most Americans really want to believe we live in a meritocracy and anything less is a bad deal for everyone.
Where are all the old people?
When I was in graduate school, I worked at a Fortune 500 company and asked some of my coworkers where all the old engineers were. They looked at me like I had 3 eyes and they squirmed uncomfortably until someone worked up courage to chime in. “There aren’t any,” – one sheepishly replied – “They burn out by 40 because they can’t handle the pressure.” They had all sorts of officially approved diversity in that company, but very little diversity of wisdom earned from decades of experience. Wisdom is much more difficult to measure than skin color.
There’s another reason why no one wants mature workers – they are highly resistant to brainwashing and bad ideas. They ask “why” too often. By the time you hit 40, you have zero tolerance for stupidity. That’s why the CIA won’t hire anyone over 35. It is also why Big 4 consulting firms like to recruit right out of college. You have to start the programming early.
“Jeffrey. You don’t understand reality. We only do this so we won’t get sued! We are not really as ignorant and stupid as you think. We’re not really racists and bigots.” Hmmm. I suppose I am not a master of the universe because I am not smart enough to understand how Title VII really permits blatant preferences in hiring based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” just so you won’t get sued.
Real diversity isn’t a black and white issue and it comes in many forms. While skin color is the least important, it is the most highly prized. However, if you are looking for the “right” kind of diversity – the kind where people have different ideas – stop looking at meaningless, superficial indicators. Just hire the most qualified person for the job!
For some excellent reading on this subject, take a look at Hard Truths About Race on Campus in the Wall Street Journal. Ilya Somin’s recent piece on racial preferences at the University of Texas is also excellent. To top it off, read what Walter Williams has to say about Stubborn Ignorance.
If you are really angry with me over my lack of enlightenment, or agree with me fully, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read my blog on IT Governance issues at http://blog.e-volvellc.com.
© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2016