What makes a problem a problem?
For the New York Times editorial board businesses have a problem when they do not have enough diversity. Profitability does not matter. Quality of product and service does not matter. Growth and future prospects do not matter.
It’s diversity uber alles.
Apparently, the Times has just discovered what many news outlets have been reporting for months now—Silicon Valley is not a very diverse place.
The Times editorialized:
After years of playing down the problem, technology companies like Google, Facebook and Apple now say they’re serious about improving the gender and ethnic diversity of their work forces and corporate boards. Recent data from those companies and others like them confirm what everyone has long known: Most of their employees are white and Asian men. Among technical employees, few are women, and even fewer are Latino or African-American.
But, why is this a problem? Are these companies not doing very well? Are they not building their businesses? Are they not world beaters in their fields? The companies named-- Google, Facebook and Apple-- count among the shining lights in American and world business.
As the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
And yet, the Times is offended that these companies are insufficiently diverse. It cannot argue that these companies are failing and need a major overhaul. So it says that they will be able to do better. How does the Times know this? It explains that “studies” “prove” diversity to be good for the bottom line:
Tech companies should care about these numbers. Many studies show that companies with gender and ethnic diversity tend to be more creative and more profitable, because varied perspectives help them design products and services that appeal to a diverse, worldwide audience.
Of course, Google is not selling soap or moisturizer. Apple has done extremely well selling computer products. And Facebook… remind me of why its products do not appeal to a diverse worldwide audience? Do you think that technical support would be better if it were sprinkled around the world, rather than concentrated in India?
As one expects, the Times editorial is all fluff and no substance. The paper does not understand that businesses are not in the business of promoting people on the basis of diversity. Is the more diverse Times more profitable than Google?
If the Times is right, an enterprising tech company can hire up all of the highly qualified women and minority applicants that have been rejected by Silicon Valley and become a world beater. If there is a problem, the market can surely take care of it.
Since the Times, I suspect, does not believe in market solutions it will eventually insist that these companies be sued for discrimination or deprived of government contracts… until they become suitably diverse.
Don’t you know? It’s for their own good.