T Nation

Diversity: Who, What, Why, When, Where

There has been threads on this before, but whatever.

When is diversity important?
Is it necessary?
When is lack of diversity important?
Does Diversity work? What’s it’s intent?

Should a society legislate diversity? If so, when & where? Also How? But most importantly, why?



Depends what you mean by diversity. I think diversity of thought and opinion is important in everyday life, and in business. I discussed this here: Moral Equivalents?, but during some MBA courses the business case for diversity was brought up. Research shows that diverse teams have better financial returns and more innovation.

Depends on how close your margins are. I think you can get away with group-think for a while, but eventually it can bite you in the ass.

Non-diverse groups can miss out on opportunities from others they are excluding from their group due to their club/tribal nature (i.e. if you don’t hire women or make women feel included int he workforce, you would be missing out on any potentially talented females).

I think the way we measure diversity today is flawed, but is the only meaningful way we can measure it. Just because somebody is a certain gender/race does not demonstrate their thought process, problem solving skills, social awareness…etc. There are quite a few different personality tests out there that I think provide a more accurate picture of how that individual will contribute to a group.

I think there are diminishing returns to diversity (again, diversity of thought) as it can slow the process down. At a certain point you need to move forward and not discuss ideas and challenge things anymore, and less diverse groups will be able to agree quicker and easier. The research I mentioned above mentioned this specifically, but said that even though projects took more time up front they had less issues down the road.

I think this is more along the lines of diversity of race/gender…etc. I do not think legislating diversity in the sense of forcing companies to have specific percentages of populations or genders is the right thing to do, as I mentioned above, diverse businesses have incentives to diversify and the ones that do will receive those results. There are also the social incentives of being a diverse company that are beneficial.

I think the case of legislating diversity can be made for reparations for previous wrong doing, but that conversation has been had many times in different forms here. Not sure if we need to re-hash it.

I intentionally left it open ended to see where people took it, if they wanted to take it.

There is a lot I want to touch on in your post so forgive me if I come back later after these points:

Do you have this by any chance? I’d like to read it.

The issue he is: your mood can greatly skew your scores, and they aren’t that hard to “cheat” or “game” to your advantage.

I’ve taken them while depressed (purposeful little d here), and scored so much lower on some metrics than I should have been it was a waste of time to pay for them. And you can’t take it twice as that really skews your score.

I’d not work for a company that had that as a condition of employment. Personally speaking.

Plus some of the best “workers” are objective douche canoes with zero people skills, lol.

In terms of what people normally mean with they say it (race, gender orientation etc) can you think of any times lack of diversity would be good?

One example I came up with (and I could totally be wrong so anyone feel free to disagree) would be in advertising. Micro targeted advertising would likely benefit from keeping the brainstorming to most people who identify with the group you are targeting, and not including very many, if any “others”. Like advertising for panty liners… Is it really going to be worth the payroll to pay your stereotypical man to sit down in those meetings to give his input to how to best reach the target market? Maybe one dude, simply there to say “yeah, nothing about this is offensive, in my opinion to your non-target market”, but other than that… I’m not sure lol.

I agree the case can be made (whether or not I agree with it depends). But when do you stop? What metric do you use to say “hey, we accomplished our goals, let’s end this now.”?

Diversity for the sake of diversity is where I draw the line. I could eat snails for the sake of diversifying my diet but I prefer not to.

Legislating diversity is a problem for me especially if you have legislated against discrimination for multiple reasons.

Then again, if a job won’t hire me because they have “too many” white men working there already I could always ask, “really? Well how many short people do you have working there already?” So maybe diversity isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you figure out how to work the system. Especially in these days of identity politics.

I’m not sure how to link to pdf’s and the paper’s require a login. And abstract of one:

I know an abstract leaves a lot of nuance to be able to truly understand if it was a solid study.

Agreed, but even with that said, I think it says more about “me” (good mood me or bad mood me) than the color of my skin or my gender.

As in they had you take one before being employed or had to be in a specific category to be employed? Personally I am fine with a company using whatever means they think are necessary to best understand the people they hire, but it should be a test that is third party based. I think some companies got in trouble for doing their own personality tests and it quickly leads to a lawsuit where it can be shown bias or discrimination, intentionally or unintentionally.

Agreed, and I think it is good to know that if you are forming a team. A lot of the personality test stuff doesn’t matter if you know the people, but if I’m forming a team with people I don’t know (or know well) I think it can be useful to understand how they think and approach problems. During my class we specifically addressed how certain personalities clash and others work together, and if you know that you are working with someone who thinks differently than you it can really help understand their work process.

I think this can be a trick question. I think you can have a group of all one race who think radically differently, so it is a diverse group even though as we view diversity today it would not be classified in that way.

I agree with you example about a sterotypical man, but what does that mean in today’s society? That could be a meat-head, CEO, engineer, lawyer…etc. When you mention “worth the payroll” I think you are getting at my diminishing returns point. After a while does it really make sense to keep adding people just for the sake of diversity? Obviously not, but I think it can be hard to know exactly where to draw that line and it depends on the situation. In the case you mention, I think you are more or less correct, but there is a lot of grey.

Haha I’m probably not the best to answer this, as I’m not sure on the effectiveness of reparations, the unintended consequences, long term vs. short term… etc. To me, reparations are separate from how I view diversity. I view diversity in the sense of how different opinions and experiences can benefit a group where the opposite (group-think) can be bad. Reparations are more in the discrimination lane where I don’t know the research or understand the arguments well enough to truly make the case for or against.


We all aren’t all that far off here.

I think in a situation like affirmative action, the intent is (while hypocritical in nature) “positive” discrimination towards non-whites because of systematic “negative” discrimination towards non-whites for a long, long time. I understand that rationale, and on emotional levels, agree with it. Legislatively I think it creates a mine field, and I just don’t know how good or bad it really is…

I mean, would you really want to work for someone that truly hated you because of your skin tone, or what genitals you have? (Or for who you voted for?)

I think Affirmative Action is like trickle down economics.

I don’t see AA as forcing diversity for diversity’s sake, or even equality of opportunity, as much as it is trying to force equality of outcome. I mean from the point of view of affirmative action. In other words, AA believes that if they can artificially create opportunities then somehow we will magically have an equal outcome.

I get the idea of not wanting to work for someone who hated you but people, usually males, have managed to work together with people they despised. Besides, businesses that have government contracts, for example, should not be allowed to discriminate.

Who’d they use for a control?

As in if they wanted me to take one as a condition of employment. I have the luxury of being pretty choosey in which positions I will or won’t take. As in, if an office is still in the stone age and wears ties, I can pass, and won’t have to worry about not getting another could offers within 48 hours.

How anyone could screw this up is beyond me, lol

In my example? One that doesn’t really have much constructive input into products used by women for periods. I have a wife and daughter, I understand the basics… I would be ZERO help in a marketing meeting about selling pads lol. I’d consider myself the “stereotypical man” in this situation.

Yes. Very much so.

It’s not.



Yes, it can and does work. It’s not necessary, but where it happens its not a good or bad thing, it’s just a thing that has both good and bad in it. Europe is or was very un-diverse for a long time and it was fine. In many places it’s still not diverse. Where diversity happens the home team should accept the new comers and it’s incumbent on the new comers not to impose their culture on the greater whole of their surrogate home as well. Where it happens it best for both sides to communicate and participate in making their collective community as good as it can be. The U.S. is inherently diverse, so we have to put up with each other. We also should learn from from each other.

A government should not legislate diversity unless there is an obvious bias against a particular group and they are being harmed. I don’t think anybody could argue against, at this point, that legislation as it pertained to ‘Jim Crow’ era discrimination was necessary. Diversity legislation is and should be reactive, unless the government does in fact have a crystal ball.

It should be noted that said diversity politics has inherently built in silos which is the opposite of diversity.

Diversity should be encouraged, not enforced.

Diversity when it happens without a huge amount of government enforcement/interference can be a wonderfully enriching thing, manufactured diversity can be incredibly toxic.

Enablement is key really.


I think you might be selling yourself short on a couple of things. You might not be able to understand the specifics of the advertising angle, but you might understand the principles of advertising and what ads have worked in the past and what ads haven’t. If you raised your sister you might have more understanding than me, who only has brothers. I guess what I’m saying is the stereotypical man can have a number of different experiences, viewpoints, and skills they could bring to the table. I think this goes for any gender/race. You and I are both “stereotypical men”, but I think the value we could bring in a meeting are completely different.

I think where diversity swings the pendulum too far is when they focus too much on having specific gender/race attributes and not the diversity of thought. A black guy from Nigeria probably will have different experiences than a black guy from the US, and pretending they are the same because they have similar skin pigment is foolish in my opinion.

The research disagrees with you.

Agreed. Forcing it can lead to a lot of unintended consequences, and as I said above, I think the benefits of diversity of thought are hard to measure so it cannot be easily manufactured so companies (or whoever) resort to basing it on gender/race.

This thread is going to be way less exciting without Raj.


I am not sure what research you are talking about, but diversity isn’t necessary where the population is not diverse. That does not apply to the U.S., but it does apply in other places around the world. Some small tribe in the back waters of Africa, for instance, requires no diversity for them to live out a perfectly happy existence. And if they are introduced to diversity, its usually because somebody invaded and conquered their land.

It pisses me off because people assume I am an Affirmative Action hire, being Apache. No, I’m the lead engineer and the fricking owner because I busted my ass. I also had a 3.9GPA at school.

It also pisses me off because I make the same assumption they do about diversity hires, and I am generally correct, so I can’t even be mad when people make that assumption about me.


People assume the OWNER of a company was hired via Affirmative Action?

That’s a slam dunk Darwin test right thar.

This looks like fun

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I specifically mentioned it up thread, and included an abstract

Ok? It seems the situation you brought up goes against your point that lack of diversity is ever important. You said never, and now you are giving a situation where the lack of diversity is important.

You also said diversity is not important and not necessary. That is not supported by research on diversity in the workplace, the opposite is.

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Diversity of thought is important, not diversity of identity (the generally accepted definition)


When there is value to be derived from it’s absence. I think however this is more important relating to gender than any other qualifier. Little league, girl scouts, etc.

Well, based on the intent you can decide if it works. I couldn’t tell you what the intent is. White guilt? Passive aggressive silencing of dissent?

No. People should be allowed to associate with whomever they please.

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