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    • Gee Ranasinha

      If businesses really believe “good ideas can come from anywhere”, why do so few bother to build a truly diverse executive team? I've lost count of the number of About Us web pages of "disruptive" full of photos of 20-something bros without a woman, person of color, or (horror of horrors) over-40 to be seen.


      The modern definition of diversity seems to be "people who look different but think alike".

      That can't be healthy, progressive, or sustainable in the long-term. Can it?

    • Brian Strong

      The modern definition of diversity seems to be "people who look different but think alike".

      I totally agree with that. I've been through so many interview processes where a hiring decision was made purely based on the interviewee's "cultural fit". Sometimes this meant turning down a completely capable person just because the interviewers were worried about how that person would fit in socially. That's sad and the reverse is equally bad.

      Hiring is such a fragile process. The ability to make an accurate judgment on a person after an hour of interacting with them is nearly impossible. Maybe the interviewee is incredibly smart but so happens to be very nervous because a lot is riding on getting the job. Maybe the interviewer is having a stressful day so they have a hard time connecting with a stranger. I guess this means that people tend to gravitate towards the familiar and what is familiar is what is already around them. Then a self-fulfilling prophecy is created.

      To help solve this problem, I think we need to somehow improve the hiring process.

    • Humans have tribal instincts and that will always be the case. The question is how to promote diversity. That, I believe, is a complex question with a complex answer. I am not sure. What I am sure of, because there is tons of data to support this, is that affirmative action does not work.

      For example, the recent California law mandating quotas for women in executive boards will not only not work in fostering diversity, it will degrade the reputation of women reaching that level on their own merit.

      People not only don't learn from history, they also don't understand statistics. One piece of "evidence" in support of the law was the statement that companies with women in their executive boards did better than companies with all-male boards. This argument begs a few questions: 1) Why is the conclusion, then, that more women in boards will cause companies to be better managed?; 2) Why is the conclusion not that companies with more talented professionals are naturally more inclusive of women and also better performing?; 3) Why should the state tell companies how achieve better management? And so on.

    • Gee Ranasinha

      No matter how well-intentioned, affirmative action fails to address the underlying structural inequalities preventing a diverse representation. Anything based on a zero-sum game ( "for me to win, you must lose" ) doesn't seem to me to be a healthy way forward.

      If the idealized view of politics is as a reflection of the wishes of the people, the fact that over 100 women have just been elected to the US House Of Representatives (including for the first time ever 2 Muslim women and 2 Native American women) can be seen as progress. Baby steps...

      My issue is the outright lies that businesses tell themselves. It's still rare to see businesses with female representation at senior management level, let alone people of color or disability. These are the same businesses that purport to provide an open and welcoming environment for their (diverse) customers segments. A case of "do as I say, not as I do."

      There's also what I can only term rampant ageism. Ten will get you five that a startup with a founder under 30 won't have anyone there over 40, let alone 50 or above.

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