The best reasons to favor diversity in hiring: A response to Tristan Kromer’s “Why Meritocracy Doesn’t Work”

Tristan Kromer just published a blog post titled “Why Meritocracy Doesn’t Work” in response to the recent anti-diversity Google manifesto. He makes some good points, notably around how small amounts of bias can amplify and threaten diversity without increasing the merit of employees. However, to my mind, he misses the most important reasons to have active diversity policies at the expense of a pure meritocracy. Here are the key points, developed in a bit more detail below:

  1. Diversity increases new ideas and decreases groupthink;
  2. There is no obvious reason to believe that hiring the best individuals necessarily produces the best workforce – there can be emergent properties based on how people interact, etc.;
  3. There is no fully objective metric of merit, and forcing people outside their comfort zones in defining merit may open up new ways of seeing things;
  4. A cultural change to ensure and value diversity could create new ideas of merit that are less individually based.
  5. There are advantages to both company performance and diversity. It seems unreasonable to expect one or the other to completely dominate the other, particularly as there are likely to be diminishing marginal returns at the extremes of which we value.

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