It’s one of the mantras of our times, that diversity is a good thing. Which it may well be of course. But that’s not then to say that we have proven that diversity in a workforce or organisation is an economically good thing. We might also think through this in a rather different manner, that diversity of viewpoint is a good thing but that’s not the same thing as what the modern world calls diversity. In fact, there’s a good point to be made that the two different versions conflict with each other, that diversity of view and of person.
One thing we do know is that the following two statements are wrong:
We know that gender-balanced teams create better financial returns. We also know that businesses with teams made up in the likeness of their customers – a wide variety of ethnicities, sexualities, strengths, faiths, ages and genders – provide better products and richer customer services.
We don’t know either of those things at all.
For example, banking returns have fallen as banking has become more gender diverse. The point being that sure, men are generally more risk taking than women. But mixed gender teams make the men more risk taking than an all male team, also makes the women more risk taking than an all female team. A mixed gender environment in banking increases risk taking. And it is some time now since banks generally even managed to cover their cost of capital.
As to production teams doing better then they match the customer base, we’ve good evidence against this too. In fact, we’ve a campaign insisting the opposite, about “Black Twitter.” The point being argued is that penetration of Twitter into the black US population is higher than it is in the white. Yet there are near no blacks who work at Twitter, certainly very many fewer than the ratios in the general population. Thus Twitter should hire more blacks.
But look at what the statement actually is. A near all white team is producing something especially successful among blacks – the workforce fitting the customer base idea has just been exploded, hasn’t it?
There is also a fascination with the underlying logic here. Everyone should have a fair shake – which of course they should – and that fair shake is to be measured by group occurrence. We’ve also this insistence that we’ve better results when all groups are represented. But that must mean – otherwise, why would group representation matter? – that the different groups bring something different to the table. That’s the benefit of diversity. But now we’re insisting that the groups are different, aren’t we? Therefore it should be no surprise that group representation is different in different areas.
If we’re all the same whatever melanin content, cultural background, gender, sexual flavour, then sure, why not have those equally mixed groups and representations. But as soon as the argument is that we should have the mixture because members of different groups are different then we’ve just insisted that not all are the same, haven’t we?
There is a resolution to this, which is that diversity of view does aid an organisation. But that diversity of those who hold the same views is not. Multi-hued Marxism doesn’t aid an organisation at all, two gammons like myself and Chris Dillow would. But then that’s an idea that’s just never going to take hold today, is it? Even the explanation will be rejected as patriarchal logic, even white mansplainin’.