Forced Diversity: A Utopian Vision

forced diversity
"Utopia" - Digital art by Eleni Synodinou

July 6, 2022

“Diversity”—meaning everyone looks different and thinks the same—is the unquestionable dogma among modern progressives. Institutions today hire for immutable characteristics and sometimes even sexual orientation. University professors are required to submit “DEI statements” in pledge of their allegiance to the dogma or face tenure rejection. Dissidents, even when they bear the immutable characteristics or inward identity that progressives consider worthy of more representation, lose their group status, and are lumped with those not insured by the acronyms LGBTQIA2S+ or BIPOC. White women enjoy a morsel of unrepresented status, but only by gender.

Diversity was bound to sex at its genesis. Early progressives argued women ought to be represented everywhere in places of leadership, and argued that workforces ought to have a satisfactory number of female employees. Here, the idea that things must be diverse, or be made so by fiat, was established.

Born out of third-wave feminism, this forced diversity gained real traction around the mid-to-late 2000s. Mckinsey & Company, one of the largest management consulting firms, rode this wave and released their first Women Matter report in 2007. Proponents of gender diversity would later be emboldened by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s famous quote, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made…It shouldn’t be that women are the exception,” she decreed in a 2009 USA Today interview which furthered the feminist crusade.

Forced gender diversity soon turned into forced racial diversity, a step up from its former self. All populations share the sex binary but not the full spectrum of ethnicity. Referencing the dogma’s logic, forced racial diversity is more “inclusive” than only forced gender diversity because more “underrepresented” groups can be added to a collective. Universities were practicing Affirmative Action for years before this version of diversity reared its head, but this forced racial diversity was more explicit in that it applied, not only to undergraduate enrollment, but to hiring employees.

Princeton University took on new commitments in 2015 to “do better, push harder, to recruit and retain faculty members who diversify the campus community,” according to then Dean of the Faculty, Deborah Prentice. This was soon after the killing of Micheal Brown in 2014 and the #BlackLivesMatter eruption. The hashtag had almost 60,000 mentions per day following Brown’s death, and marked the cultural shift that ushered in forced racial diversity. It was thought this would amend things.

Today, the language used in Princeton’s faculty hiring methods alludes that the university hires faculty based on immutable characteristics. Many other universities join them.

The latest version of forced diversity is sexual. Not based on “sex” in the traditional sense because this reality doesn’t exist to progressives; rather, this diversity criteria is an amalgamate of sexual expression, orientation, gender, and reproductive biology. It’s unclear what this newest criteria is—though somehow sexual in nature—because it includes humans, other species, and fictional characters. It’s nothing and everything at once. Nonetheless, progressives have upped the requirements to satisfy “equity.” Excluding transgender people from one’s pool of potential mates is considered bigoted. Which, is interesting, as progressives have a myriad of sexual preferences that exclude mates. Some exclude the entire human race; asexuality is becoming popular.

So, what is the chief end of forced diversity? At its broadest, forced diversity seeks to eliminate homogeneity in any form. Be it sexual orientation, race, socioecnomic status, culture, sex, nationality, religion and so on. This is achieved by including people from “underrepresented” groups by hand—irrespective of individuals’ traits   unrelated to their immutable characteristics—or by excluding majority-group individuals.

A White House statement following an executive order states the goal of forced diversity well: 

“Even with decades of progress building a Federal workforce that looks like America, the enduring legacies of employment discrimination, systemic racism, and gender inequality are still felt today. Too many underserved communities remain under-represented in the Federal workforce, especially in positions of leadership. This Executive Order establishes an ambitious, whole-of-government initiative that will take a systematic approach to embedding DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility) in Federal hiring and employment practices.”

Quebec’s Laval University wasn’t bashful in their faculty job posting reading, 

“In order to meet these commitments, only candidates with the required qualifications AND having self-identified as a member of at least one of these four under-represented groups will be selected in this process.” 

White men need not apply, in short.

Humans Are Tribal

But history indicates forced diversity isn’t a silver bullet. Humans are tribal and “self-sort” into homogenous groups, according to economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell. Realizing this isn’t to say “self-sorting” is pure of ill motives, but it is to highlight a universal characteristic of humanity that may be difficult to contend with.

Readers will be surprised that Brown v. The Board of Education wasn’t the solution many hoped for during its time. Sowell notes in Discrimination and Disparities that the famous Dunbar Highschool sent a higher percentage of its graduating class to college than any other Washington highschool before Brown’s ruling. The same school produced the first black women to earn a Ph.D. at an American university and the first black tenured professor at a national institution. To be fair, Dunbar Highschool was producing pupils far more capable than many white kids. No surprise, because this school was accepting students based on merit, manners, and the applicant’s desire for education. Qualities irrespective of immutable characteristics.

This changed after Brown. Dunbar Highschool was forced to take in kids within a set geographic boundary of their location. This ended the student selection process that was serving them well. Test scores and students sent to college declined to pitiful levels. The school turned unruly, and the once tight-knit teacher-to-student relationship vanished. Many teachers quit their positions.

In the end, forced diversification of socioeconomic position, race, and merit via school zoning hindered the education of many black students. Perhaps, the decline of academic performance caused the national widening of the post-Brown black-white wage gap

A group of scholars from The National Bureau of Economic Research rejected the idea that school quality was the primary cause of the black-white wage gap, instead correlating the increase in the wage gap to workers educated in the post-Brown era. As they wrote in their paper, “Race and School Quality Since Brown vs. Board of Education:” 

“In light of our analysis of trends in school quality, we doubt that school quality is the main explanation for the decline in the relative economic position of black Americans since the mid-1970s. The reason for this conclusion is that the black-white wage gap has expanded most dramatically for cohorts of workers that were educated in the post-Brown era. 5 For example, between 1980 and 1990, the black-white wage gap expanded from 20 percent to 37 percent for men born 1950-59, but hardly changed for men born 1930-39. Because the racial gap in school quality and educational attainment was much smaller for the 1950-59 birth cohort than for the 1930-39 birth cohort, it is unlikely that an increase in the return to school quality is responsible for the expansion in the earnings gap.”

One pair of scholars reflect on the aftermath of Brown in their 2007 publication writing, that “the Brown decision considerably altered the nature of the African American community, diluting its collective whole, collective struggle, and collective will.” 

Again, this is not to say big-government separating people by melanin is justified. It is reprehensible. Rather, the good intentions of forced diversification didn’t harbor desirable results or were the silver bullet to inequalities. Indeed, there were inequalities among the education of blacks and whites before Brown, but forcing schools to be non-selective by mandating zoning practices had consequences. It would have been better to remove segregation as a limiting factor to the selection process, rather than forcing schools to diversify via school zoning. One method is removing a limiting factor, the other is forcing a selection criteria..

William F. Buckley, Jr. once described the education issue in 1965, writing that “the purpose of education is to educate, not to promote a synthetic integration by numerically balancing ethnic groups in the classroom.” 

Although illegal in most cases, gender-based hiring quotas spawned out of the earliest version of diversity. They, too, are faulty. In 2003, the Norwegian Parliament passed  legislation  requiring the boards of public firms to be at least 40% female. All firms within the country were given until 2005 to comply. Many firms chose otherwise, so parliament deemed the law compulsory. Firms that didn’t satisfy the mandate by 2008 would be dismissed.

What’s given to us is a natural experiment. We can observe the impacts of gender-based, forced diversification. Dr. Kenneth Ahern and Dr. Amy Dittmar found that forced diversification had negative impacts on the value generation of the 248 firms they studied. Comparing a common financial ratio used to determine value of corporations pre-mandate and post mandate, they state, “A forced 10 percent increase of women representation on the board led to a 12.4 percent decline in Tobin’s Q (the market value of a company divided by its assets’ replacement cost) from the average.” 

The researchers also investigated how the forced diversification impacted board members themselves, arguing, “personal characteristics of board members such as age, education, and professional experience are also likely to directly affect a director’s ability to monitor and advise. Given the large demand shock imposed by the quota, we expect that the new female directors were different along many of these dimensions.”

As it would turn out, the forced diversification resulted in hires much different than the pre-mandate hires. New female board members had “significantly less CEO experience” and were much younger than the males already on the boards. However, they were more educated. Ahren and Dittmar suggest the forced changes in the boards sowed inexperience, “the quota led firms to increase in size, undertake more acquisitions, increase leverage, and reduce cash holdings,” adding that “results are consistent with a deterioration in the capabilities of the board.”

Females are not less intelligent or inferior to men. One could argue female personality characteristics could give CEOs an edge or prove beneficial in a hectic business atmosphere. Though, forced diversification does not work, not because the certain immutable characteristics are detrimental to certain individuals, but because forced diversification selects for diversity over merit. One pool is selected for merit. The other, sex.

Of course there will be a shift in employee experience across the groups. That does not mean the people who bear the immutable characteristic that forced diversity is selecting for are inherently inferior. It just means the selection criteria shifts.

Progressives will allocate the burden of the lowered valuations to the men, meaning, they believe that men contributed to the companies’ decrease in total monetary value via their financial decision making. But, neither the men nor the women bear this burden. It is the progressive initiative to construct bureaucracies, both in and out of government, that are undergirded by an ideological zeal to subvert meritocracy in the name of “diversity”—this amalgamation of broad presuppositions about different racial, ethnic, and gender groups, and how oppressed they may or may not be. The men cannot help that they were hired under a more difficult standard (wherein merit is the sole priority) and the women cannot help that they might have been hired to fulfill a diversity quota. 

Dr. Ahern and Dittmar mention that the men’s reactions may have caused some of the drop in the companies’ total monetary valuation. Readers might contend that forced diversification was justified, hence, the men were biased toward the newly hired women. But, would these men be biased because of sex or the inequality in hiring practice? Let the reader consider how they would feel if they, too, were chosen for merit while colleagues might be chosen to fulfill a quota.

Data speak to this. Minority students are viewed as less qualified when their peers are aware that affirmative action is practiced. And the same goes for the workplace. Pulling from federal employee databases, Hoang and colleagues found that manually increasing BIPOC and indigenous employee numbers (which they called “active diversity” as opposed to “passive diversity”) create a workplace that’s perceived as unjust. They state in their abstract:

“ … we find that an increase in the number of women and Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) is not sufficient to improve employees’ perceptions towards organizational justice; rather, as workforce diversity increases, the perception of organizational justice decreases when the relationship is moderated by an active form of diversity management, such as an organization’s policies and programs to promote heterogeneous groups.”

Their publication concludes by stating that the study shows that if diversity is seen as merely a numbers game, the unintended consequences are far-reaching.

Quite a statement to come down from the ivory-tower. However, they found passive diversity—diversity that was achieved without force—was beneficial to the workforce’s perception. 

Forced diversity is not the means to utopia. Human nature is fallen. Injecting people who look different from a group is not only immoral by implementing  unequal weights and measures, but it simply does not work. It seems, in as much as we can obtain it, viewing people as equals—not considering their immutable characteristics but their personal qualities and “content of their character”—is the tried and true method of a well functioning society.

But perhaps a well functioning society is not what progressives desire.


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2 Responses

  1. In assessments of ability and achievement, by and large, people are not judged according to the content of their character.
    Just consider how many successful male businesses executives, financeers, lawyers, doctors, and tech figures practice personal behaviors which are anything but indicative of good character, yet they are highly successful in their relative fields.
    We all know that it isn’t doubts about women and minorities’ personal character that blocks access to the best career opportunities. Instead, it is two considerations that get in the way: innate ability + relevant experience, and hesitancy and/or revulsion due to these individuals not being WASP males. (With the exception of the legal profession, within which a disproportionate share of ethnically Jewish men work.) Part of what exacerbates the personal hesitancy and revulsion factors are cultural and behavioral differences many whites feel towards those who are not white.
    I do agree that compulsory integration (racial, ethnic, gender, etc) has definite drawbacks, but without the societal efforts along these lines beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954, very little or no changes in hiring practices, promotions, admission to institutions of higher learning, opportunities to socialize with business and financial elites (in country clubs) and similar would have taken place spintaneously, out of good will and social pragmatism.
    As your piece said, human nature is fallen.

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