Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why free markets are better than quotas for achieving "diversity"

I have a co-worker/friend at Jukt Micronics that I'm going to call "Jim". 
Jim is gay. 
He's not political about it, he doesn't go to the bars, and he doesn't crusade. It doesn't matter either way, and long-time readers of this site know that I don't care.
Jim just got one heck of a promotion.  He's been elevated into the stratosphere of the Jukt Micronics sales department where he'll be taking care of what'll soon be Canada's #1 retailer, if it isn't already.

Jim wasn't given this job to fill a quota, or to show off how "diverse" we are.  Jim did a heck of a job when he was running Customer Service, and if we hadn't hired and promoted him, someone else would've hired him and possibly made a lot of money with him selling to Canada's #1 retailer.

Our #1 salesperson is usually a woman named....  Well, I dare not speak it.   We all fear her.  Competitors won't hire her, because they're afraid she'd take over.  One doesn't achieve the highest sales total every year by merely being quota-filler.  She has the highest sales by making heroic personal sacrifices, taking care of bidness, and squashing everyone else like a bug.   

Our plastic, wood and metal shop Production Managers are Black, Hispanic, and Black, respectively.  Dig down a little deeper and you'll find a Cambodian clear plastic supervisor, a Cambodian design supervisor, a Serbian wire shop supervisor, and another gaggle of bosses who all seem to be from the same neighborhood in Mexico.  My boss, the Operations V.P., is from Juarez. 

Our meetings sometimes look like the United Nations' break room.  Nobody planned it, nobody even wanted it.  The owners just started going for the best people they could afford, and that's what happened.

Compare my workplace to this....  It's from an article in City Journal by Heather MacDonald called "Multiculti U", about the insane expenses associated with "diversity" programs in the California college system.  Hit this link to read the whole thing. 
In September 2012, for instance, as the university system faced the threat of another $250 million in state funding cuts on top of the $1 billion lost since 2007, UC San Diego hired its first vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion. This new diversocrat would pull in a starting salary of $250,000, plus a relocation allowance of $60,000, a temporary housing allowance of $13,500, and the reimbursement of all moving expenses. (A pricey but appropriately “diverse” female-owned executive search firm had found this latest diversity accretion.) In May 2011, UCLA named a professional bureaucrat with a master’s degree in student-affairs administration as its first assistant dean for “campus climate,” tasked with “maintaining the campus as a safe, welcoming, respectful place,” in the words of UCLA’s assistant vice chancellor and dean of students. In December 2010, UC San Francisco appointed its first vice chancellor of diversity and outreach—with a starting salary of $270,000—to create a “diverse and inclusive environment,” announced UC San Francisco chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann. Each of these new posts is wildly redundant with the armies of diversity functionaries already larding UC’s bloated bureaucracy.
Good God in heaven, what a mess. 

Full disclosure:  Jukt Micronics isn't remotely "normal".  It's an insane place to work.  Hours are long.  It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  The first time I went to lunch with a plant manager, he warned me that "we are a screaming company".  And yet we've accidentally achieved a level of diversity that other places can't even dream of, and it didn't cost us a dime.  We made money doing it!!!   

Competition for employees, for raw materials, and for ideas has a way of cleansing and purifying things.  What if we had decided early on to not hire any ethnic or social minorities?  Who would it have hurt more, Jukt Micronics or the potential employees that we would've unwisely declined to hire?  I think it would've killed us. 

Read the entire Heather MacDonald piece if you get a chance.  And then try to decide which organization has the best approach to achieving diversity: California's college system, or a bunch of Texans who wanted to make the best display fixtures for the best price.

And congratulations, Jim!   


Anonymous said...

Funny how the most diverse places in the world are the ones who didn't try to make it that way.

Stephen M. Smith said...

When I worked for a different company a few years back, I was assigned the job of measuring our department's diversity. It amounted to dividing the team into two classifications - "white males" and "other." Easily the most embarrassing task I've ever been given.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I've been listing myself as American Indian/Alaskan Native for years.

Anonymous said...

what is so special about diversity?

Jim Hodge said...

We see two opportunities in the system of free enterprise. We must get businesses hiring again.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

To me, there's nothing at all special about diversity. It's something that the market will arbitrarily achieve if left alone, and that will piss off half the populace if achieved through quotas and special preferences.