I confess that I’ve never been interested in the argument over whether “diversity” is good for business, primarily because I don’t think business benefit provides a relevant standard to use in evaluating policies that allegedly discriminate on the basis of race. If it were ever demonstrated that either segregated or uni-racial work forces were good for business, would that legitimize segregation or refusing to hire employees on the basis of their race? If not, then why should business benefit, even it is real, legitimize the racial discrimination inherent in preferential hiring and college admissions?
Actually, there’s not much an argument here over the value of “diversity” in the workplace. What there is is a virtually uniform, unchallenged chorus of assertions that it is a Good Thing. In Great Britain, however, there is now a discordant note in that chorus.
The value of multicultural workplaces is disputed by most businesses, according to research by a think-tank based on interviews with almost 300 small and medium enterprises.
The CBI-backed survey by the Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity — the largest to chart business views on this issue — found that while a third agreed that ethnic diversity contributed to performance, slightly more disagreed….
The findings suggest that SMEs, which make up the vast majority of the UK’s 4m companies, are not in a rush to diversify their workforce — although a significant minority are convinced it could help their business.
There is evidence, at least in the United States, that big business does not share this view, although I’ve always suspected that a good deal of what big business means by “good for business” is keeping racial extortionists like Jesse Jackson off their backs.
But as I said, I don’t think one’s view of preferential hiring should be based on whether or not it’s good for business, big or small.