Thursday, February 14, 2019

Diversity, Part 8. Summing Up

Demography is Diversity.  Diversity is being driven by demography.  The dramatic change in the U.S. population from 88.3% White in 1940 to a projected 42.6% White in 2060 (Whites will cease being a majority sometime around 2042-45) must necessarily change the composition and leadership of nearly every American organization and institution.

I have raised a number of issues with the process of Diversity and Inclusion.

There is considerable arbitrariness in the racial/ethnic classification of Americans, which means that any descriptive statistics on Diversity are not conclusive.

Measurement, an agreed-upon numerical scale and the appropriate level (s) to which it applies in any organization (the degree of granularity), is critical to claims about progress towards Diversity.  To date, measurement has received little consideration.

The current working definition of Diversity and Inclusion is that no all-White entity can exist.  Every group with Whites must include non-Whites.  Any group of non-Whites need not include Whites.  Whites cannot self-segregate and must be Inclusive.  In contrast, minorities must have the right to integrate and self-segregate as they wish.  Minorities can be Inclusive and/or Exclusive.  Women can be Exclusive of men, but not all-White.

There are no simple criteria for deciding who between and within the People of Color should be at the front of the Diversity and Inclusion line.  Those who have been here the longest?  Those who descend from American slavery?

Diversity and Inclusion are both process and outcome.  The process of Diversity is a steady increase in the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) and women in all organizations (e.g., higher education, media, business, non-profits, government).  The process of Inclusion requires an increase in the number of URM and women in the higher echelons, the decision-making levels, of organizations.  On this supposition, the process of Diversity and Inclusion should continue until a reasonable approximation of parity is achieved, namely, half for women and proportional for URM to their share of the population.  Will certain patterns that have emerged in the process of Diversity and Inclusion obstruct a color- and gender-blind America?  Will women and People of Color (POC) be allowed (should they be allowed?) to retain Exclusive organizations--even after they have attained proportional membership in all organizations?  Will Whites and men be forbidden to establish all White and/or all-male organizations?  Will URM enjoy legally or constitutionally permanent preferences?

How will children of interethnic and interracial marriages be classified as their multiethnic and multiracial composition becomes more complex, first counted in halves, then quarters, and then eighths?  Will America move away from racial/ethnic classification or will these potentially divisive categories become entrenched in social, economic and political life?

Diversity and Inclusion as the basis of organization composition and leadership rest upon several important assumptions.  One is demographics.  But a dubious second assumption underpins current measures to achieve Diversity and Inclusion well ahead of the actual demographic timetable.

The dubious assumption is that creating a Diverse community, bringing together different viewpoints of minorities and women, improves decision making, increases productivity, advances excellence, and prepares individuals to work more effectively with different cultures around the world.

Maybe so, maybe not.  The gains from Diversity and Inclusion are easily highlighted, but the potential costs from Excluding some of the most qualified, competent individuals (Whites) are unobservable.  What great medical discoveries and scientific advances will not be made?  The counterfactual cannot be proved.  So, we continue with the process.

Which leaves us, perhaps, with the issue of day.  How can we improve the process to maximize benefits and minimize costs?  Welcome to the debate!

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