Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.

Thu06222017

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Cognitive Diversity versus P.C. Diversity

We are constantly being told by the proponents of racial, ethnic, and gender preferences in business and academia that diversity results in better problem-solving, learning, and so forth. Now, there are a number of rebuttals to this justification for discrimination, but one of them has always been that, to the extent that there is truth here, it is cognitive diversity that matters rather than diversity of superficial characteristics like skin color. And it does not make sense to use skin color as a proxy for different perspectives and backgrounds.

Well, The Harvard Business Review has published an article that provides powerful support for the conservative view. Some snippets:

Received wisdom is that the more diverse the teams in terms of age, ethnicity, and gender, the more creative and productive they are likely to be. But having run the execution exercise around the world more than 100 times over the last 12 years, we have found no correlation between this type of diversity and performance.

And:

Someone being from a different culture or of a different generation gives no clue as to how that person might process information, engage with, or respond to change.

And:

Cognitive diversity has been defined as differences in perspective or information processing styles. It is not predicted by factors such as gender, ethnicity, or age.

Read the whole article here.

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I made a similar point, by the way, in testimony before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a decade ago: 

[T]he title of Scott Page’s new book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies might lead one to believe that it proves racial and ethnic diversity is good for business, but in fact its claims are more limited than that. Indeed, much of what Professor Page has to say is similar to [my] testimony — specifically, that for many jobs diversity of any sort is irrelevant; that in any event it is what he calls “cognitive” diversity that ultimately matters, not skin-color diversity per se; and that employers should “avoid lumping by [racial] identity” and should “avoid stereotypes” (and, of course, Professor Page does not address the legal prohibition on racial discrimination, even when it is said to be justified by believed “cognitive” differences).

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Here’s my recent published response (titled, “Disciplinary quotas are absurd”) to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Disparity does not equal discrimination. But Richmond Public Schools have been labeled as racist based on that idea. The recent news story, “Richmond Public Schools target of civil rights probe,” described a discrimination complaint against RPS over the fact that black students and students with disabilities have higher-than-average suspension rates.

When a school system in North Carolina was accused of racism because most of the students it suspended were black, the federal appeals court in Richmond rejected the accusation, ruling that “disparity does not, by itself, constitute discrimination.” In its ruling in Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (2001), the court rejected the idea that suspension rates should be equal among all groups, declaring that the notion that a school system “should have a disciplinary quota is patently absurd.”

Given the breakdown of the black family, these disparities are not surprising. As the Brookings Institution has observed, “black students are also more likely to come from family backgrounds associated with school behavior problems; for example, children ages 12–17 that come from single-parent families are at least twice as likely to be suspended as children from two-parent families.”

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The Center for Equal Opportunity has been involved for a long time in a case involving a proposed plebiscite in Guam that would exclude everyone but Chamorros (the native group indigenous to Guam) from voting.  But now a federal trial court in Guam ruled unconstitutional such a plebiscite. That’s the right decision, since such racial discrimination is banned by the 14th and 15th Amendments.

By the way, you might have thought that the U.S. Department of Justice would have played some role in vindicating the voting rights at stake here, but you would have been wrong: The Obama administration stayed conspicuously on the sidelines. Here’s hoping that if there is an appeal from or outright resistance to this court ruling the Trump administration will get in the game.

There’s now a Federalist Society teleforum/podcast on this topic, which you can listen to here (I participated at the 0:20:40–0:24:20 mark and the 0:44:25–0:47:07 mark).

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Speaking of Federalist Society telefora/podcasts, you may recall that I recently flagged another one, here, about a lawsuit claiming that there is an illegal “disparate impact” on the basis of age when companies focus there interviewing for certain jobs on college campuses.  Sheesh, I said.  Well, I raise this again because the principal speaker was Eric Dreiband, who has now been tapped to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the most important civil-rights agency in the federal government (and where I used to work).  I know Eric from his stint as general counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Bush43.  

By the way, I come in on Eric’s show at the 0:42:40 mark, making the point that the time is long past due to get rid of the disparate-impact approach to civil-rights enforcement altogether — and that the executive branch can do this unilaterally with respect to many regulations, and that Congress should clarify and/or change the relevant statutes.  I hope Eric was taking notes!

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ProEnglish Announces Executive Director Position – One of the Center for Equal Opportunity’s directors is Rosalie Pedalino Porter, who is also a director for our fellow traveler, ProEnglish.  That organization is looking for a new Executive Director, and we are happy to assist in the search by posting this job description in case any of our readers is interested, or knows someone who might be interested:

ProEnglish, a 501(c) organization in Washington, D.C., that promotes laws or constitutional amendments declaring English the official language of the Unites States and of individual states, invites applicants for the position of Executive Director.  The ED makes all policy decisions, manages day-to-day operations, and is the principal public speaker for the organization.  A qualified candidate will have experience in public policy and/or government relations, research and writing skills with a record of published columns in print and on-line media.  Letters of interest, with a resume, two letters and a salary history should be addressed to proenglish2017@.com with “Executive Director” as the subject line.