Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Silly Argument About Diversity

Strange argument from Simon Fanshawe on the BBC's Sunday Morning Live today, arguing that "All employers should stop simply always hiring the best person for the job. Instead, they should actively recruit as diverse a workforce as possible"

That's obviously rubbish - employers should always appoint according to who is best for the job. But that's not all.  If a workforce really were 'as diverse as possible' then by definition it would contain quite a few people who were largely unsuitable for the role in which they found themselves. Moreover, if that's your primary interest, a maximally diverse workforce should contain people like an Islamic fundamentalist, a football hooligan, an 18 year old Goth, a transsexual who sniffs glue and self-harms, a gambling addict, a mason, and a member of the flat earth society. Then you'd be some way to creating a workforce that was 'as diverse as possible' - but I don't think it would be a very good workforce.

No, for soliciting opinions, forming think tanks, forecasting, or debating topics, a diverse array of minds is of huge benefit. But places of work aren't like that. Each role requires a specialised set of skills - so hire the best person for each role, with the best personality, and you'll get the best workforce. That's all the diversity you need. Diversity for diversity's sake only means artificially disadvantaging people who are better for the roles than the people you're taking on to obtain your diverse workforce.

* Photo courtesy of