Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Re: Another Diversity Argument Bites the Dust


The Scott Page book (the excellent review of which by Russell Nieli was discussed by George and Carol yesterday) had just come out when I testified before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a couple of years ago about diversity in the workplace. Readers may be interested in a John Rosenberg blog post from a year ago, prompted by a New York Times interview with Page. Here is what I said in my testimony:

There was an article in the Washington Post on January 15, 2007 about a paper by Cedric Herring of the University of Illinois at Chicago, with parts of the article suggesting that greater diversity leads to greater business success. But, in fact, the study really seems to find only that larger companies tend to be more diverse, which is unsurprising.

Likewise, the 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 part III of my April 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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