Diversity or Meritocracy?

Hard to believe that this ad is from 1965, but of course, the assumptions it makes are part of what the rebellion of the 1960’s was about.

The world I grew up in, the world of the 50s and 60s, was a white man’s world. Every position of power, doctor, lawyer, judge, politician, was held by allegedly straight white men.

There were a few exceptions, of course, but everywhere you looked, there were often mediocre white men in charge, despite the fact that there were smart

women and minorities around who could have done a better job. So it makes perfect sense that women and minorities protested. The feminist movement, the black power movement, the LGBT movement all rose out of that sense of unfair disenfranchisement.

But now it seems to me we have a reverse problem: to satisfy diversity requirements, those hiring might chose a mediocre person of color or with a disability or a non-mainstream gender orientation over a more qualified straight caucasian.

I totally get the importance of role models, of disparate voices, of the way networking and connections influence who you know and suggest for a position. But shouldn’t the best human available for a given job be our goal?

Sports teams seem to have representation based on pure ability. Surely this is a model that would benefit us all in the long run.

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