The trouble with diversity

Some years back an American academic, Walter Benn Michaels, wrote a book called The TroubleWith Diversity. From the standard lefty campus viewpoint he pointed out the problem with the current fad for diversity. Sure, it's great, people from all different groups and backgrounds mixing together, we'll be better off for it. But that simple thought has morphed into the diversity industry we see today. And there's a problem with that:

Where's the diversity of thought?

We were rather taken with this argument and at least one of us said so at the time. We would also take it further. The original argument is that people of all genders, melanin contents, backgrounds,. have different life experiences and thus could well have a unique perspective to offer on the troubles and problems of life. We should thus at the very least listen to all these voices as we ponder how to navigate through those rapids and shoals.

But if all those voices have only one intellectual viewpoint, that of whatever the current fashion is, then both where is and what's the point of the diversity? It being diverse experience and thus views that we were applauding in the first place.

Which brings us to Saatchi and Saatchi:

The chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi has been put on immediate leave of absence after suggesting that the debate about gender bias in the advertising industry is “all over”.

Kevin Roberts, who is head coach at the advertising agency’s parent company Publicis Groupe, said he did not think the lack of women in leadership roles “is a problem”.

Whether he's right or wrong matters not a whit. He's in a competitive industry and as Gary Becker pointed out, getting it wrong on either taste discrimination or rational discrimination (and most especially, thinking you are doing the latter but really the former),  just leaves an opportunity for someone to outcompete you. Dinosaurs do die out....

However, we did laugh like a drain when we saw this, which seems to bear out Michael's point beautifully:

Publicis Groupe swiftly issued a statement saying that due to the “gravity of Mr Roberts’ comments he “has been asked to take leave of absence…effective immediately”.

The group said that its board would decide on his future at the company.  


Publicis chief executive Maurice Levy sent a memo to employees re-iterating that “diversity and inclusion are business imperatives on which Publicis Groupe will not negotiate”.

Except, apparently, diversity of views, but isn't that where we just came in, starting by insisting that diversity of views was what we were after?