EDITOR NOTE: Let’s imagine a company that’s racially diverse, but has no women among the top brass. Still diverse and inclusive? Or what if it were diverse along racial and gender lines, but all the top positions consisted of people who graduated from Ivy League schools (those who attended “lesser” schools were excluded), or only those with decades of experience (no newbies allowed despite their skills). The point is that diversity is a multidimensional concept. It can pertain to race, culture, gender, education, skills, personality types, etc. The same can be said of equity and inclusion. But no matter how you slice and dice the three if you’re operating in a competitive (and capitalist) environment, there is no permanent equity. Competition naturally creates inequity and diversity is impossible without it. Those at the top are vulnerable to competitors at the bottom. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work (it certainly does in nature). What’s important is the right to “mobility” or the opportunity to pursue advancement. But to think of diversity, equity, and inclusion from an umbrella perspective, flattening out even the heterogeneous differences within the concepts themselves, that can only be achieved under one ruling class, under a regime of oppression.
Americans would struggle to find a college campus or corporate board room that doesn’t emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion.
These three terms have taken corporate America and academia by storm. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion” is no longer just a tagline; it has become a career. Universities employ full-time diversity and inclusion offices, as do many corporations. The foundational narrative of these initiatives is that diversity, equity, and inclusion work in tandem to produce the same outcome. To have equity, you must have both diversity and inclusion.
DEI initiatives thrive because they’re rarely scrutinized. As Thomas Paine said at the beginning of Common Sense, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” But it doesn’t take much effort to realize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not cohesive ideals. Without inequity, true diversity is impossible.
Differences are necessary for anything worthwhile to function. Airlines, for example, are raging instances of inequity — and thank heavens for that! Pilots use their extensive training to keep the flights in the air while airline representatives help customers reschedule flights and check in travelers. Can you imagine an “equitable” airplane, in which airline representatives are given the role of pilot simply because they belong to a group that has been historically underrepresented in the pilot profession?
The foundational problem with DEI initiatives is that everyone is expected to believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are inherently good while uniformity, inequity, and exclusion are inherently bad. But that is not the case. In many situations, inequity is essential because each individual carries strengths and weaknesses. But DEI initiatives ignore that simple truth.
The University of Michigan’s DEI initiative defines equity in terms of a party. Diversity is when everyone is invited to the party; equity means that everyone gets to “contribute to the playlist.” In other words, the individual is irrelevant. It does not matter if some people would rather not contribute to the playlist and linger around instead. Nor does it matter that some people may have indelicate tastes in music that could result in a heavy metal song ruining the mood.
Herein lies the chief problem with equity: Different interests and habits create different outcomes. Instead of having a party where the most talented DJ elevates the mood, we have a manufactured gathering where “equity” is prioritized above all else. But university DEI offices would still choose this party. To them, the notion that an individual may not be a suitable party DJ is the work of underrepresentation or oppression.
Sadly, many academics and CEOs are terrified to admit they don’t agree with the DEI agenda. If you raise a hand against diversity, equity, and inclusion, you can be labeled many things: racist, bigot, homophobe, misogynist, along with epithets too unutterable to print. This reality prevents people from having an honest conversation about these principles, which, in many cases, drive their daily lives.
Most people agree that a world with perfect equity is not only unattainable but also undesirable. If perfect equity exists, we cannot have the diversity that matters: the real diversity that brings people from all backgrounds and mindsets together, not the diluted diversity of university DEI offices that only value differences of skin color.
People are not equal, and this has helped humanity thrive. We need leaders and followers and thinkers and doers. We need individuals to be as unequally talented as possible so we can all benefit from each others’ skill sets.
Diversity, especially the diversity of thought, is a necessary part of any functioning society. But one cannot have a pool of different people without expecting different outcomes and distinct life experiences. When champions of DEI finally accept this fundamental principle, perhaps we’ll get a better sense of what diversity actually looks like.
Originally posted on Washington Examiner