Friday, June 25, 2010

The Latest Example of Reverse Discrimination

I continue to shake my head. What are we doing?!

Today, a client who is a communications director for a prominent nonprofit told me this story. (This is a pretty close paraphrase:)

"We have three communications directors. One slot is reserved for minorities. So we hire this Latino guy. It turns out he has a Latino-sounding name but really, he's Russian. He turns out to be a total failure but we end up having to keep him because we had had to get rid of another minority manager six months ago and our organization's Diversity Committee would give us hell if we fired him. So we hired someone to train him, which cost us (and ultimately the sick people we're trying to serve) a fortune. After a year, we gave up. It was hopeless and we fired him and his trainer. Now we're looking for another person of color."

I am aware that this story would be so much more credible if I could list names and the organization but there's no way I'd even ask my client for permission. He'd lose his job faster than you can say General McChrystal. Of course, the only reason I get to hear these stories is that the client-counselor relationship guarantees confidentiality.

Please, dear reader, where possible, think in terms of the largest perspective: Ask yourself whether reverse discrimination is a net positive or a net negative:
  • in terms of the quality of the goods and services we receive
  • with regard to the injustice of more competent people not getting hired or promoted because they are of the wrong ethnic group
  • in light of the prejudice that fully qualified minorities face because we know that many positions are filled as the result of reverse discrimination. Be honest with yourself: When you, for example, see a Black physician or that a Latino student was admitted to UCLA, do you not think they well might have not been selected if it weren't for their ethnicity and perhaps pushed through, and/or had low grades, and thus are likely to be less competent?
  • And perhaps most lofty, ask yourself whether, in terms of the great universal principles of justice, in 2010, after 50 years of affirmative action, 145 years since slavery ended, in light of some minorities (Asians) doing well despite no reverse discrimination, is yet more years of reverse discrimination cosmically right?


ST said...

I've already commented on another post how our company follows EEOC requirements and hires/promotes minorities/women to fill the quotas regardless if that is the real (qualified) percentage of minorities/women out there for the job. Granted, I think the percentage of women has definitely increased in the workforce for white color jobs at least, so the requirement may have more to do with minorities these days.

At work, they also "force" the rankings for the employee review process to fit a bell curve, so for example if there are five employees, they try to give one a rock star rating, then 3 good, then one bad and needs improvement. This is ridiculous for five employees. Ideally, everyone in the company should be objectively measured (impossible, I know), and then a natural bell curve would evolve.

I really think schools should emphasis the concept of statistics and probability early on, so that it is second nature to think about these types of things. Not everyone has to be a mathematical modeler, but enough to realize how some of the things that go on are not quite right. But, since the masses can't even balance their checkbooks and so many got into trouble with the financial crisis we just had, I don't have much faith that will ever happen.

Anonymous said...

I also cannot give my org or name, but I've heard/seen the weirdest things in the name of "diversity." We have four floors of a building and when discussing who to move around amongst the floors, the COO kept saying "diversity" was a concern but to her it meant, "Are there enough black women left on a floor after moving one off?" (This org has black women in the #1 and #2 spots.) One of our floors has four black men and a Latino. No one has ever said, "Let's add a few whites or Asians to make that floor more diverse." We recently went through a hiring spree. I recommended a white man we interviewed for hire and even though he was extremely qualified, he did not get the job. There are only two white men in the whole org.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about Asians doing well despite not expecting special consideration, but around here, there is most definitely discrimination toward non Asians. (at least Far East Asians).

If you are competing for a technology job, if you are Far East Asian (maybe even just Asian) you have a very good chance against non-Asians. Technology departments LOVE having a diverse staff as long as it is with Asians. Even if the Asian in question has less experience/training than the others. The more Asians the better, even if it's the whole department/team. And this is an area where African Americans suffer (I'm white, non-ethnic fyi). If the choice is Asian, white, African American, they are choosing anything but African Americans.

It's not right nor fair. I've seen it for 25+ years, know many others who feel the same. Just wish they'd quit looking at color, age, creed, appearance, gender, sexual preference and pick best for the job. Oh well.

Shawn said...

Think twice before going to a Black doctor, with discriminatory admissions such as these:

Marty Nemko said...

Shawn, that chart, frightening as it is, is dwarfed by the following.

Defenders of such policies argue that even though Blacks get into medical school (indeed to most selective colleges and graduate schools) with vastly average lower grades and test scores, if they get through medical school, they've shown that they're competent. The dirty, dark secret is that university administration often pressures professors to push African-American students through. Blacks' low board-pass rate is indicative. And even those who pass cannot be viewed with sufficient confidence because much of the important characteristics of an effective doctor is not measured by such an exam. Bernard Davis, who was chair of a department at Harvard Medical School reportedly told his wife, "If I have to go into emergency surgery and there's a Black surgeon, wheel me out." And that's at Harvard, one of the most selective university in the U.S., which gets the best and brightest students. Imagine the story at less selective medical schools.

Shawm said...

That comment by Davis is revealing.

I'll also mention that that chart makes me think that I should tend to prefer Asian male physicians the most. I also check out Web sites that feature peer-reviewed rankings of physicians.

Iiona said...

You know the sad thing is that you can't trust a white highly educated doctor as much as you can't trust a black semi educated doctor. They all believe they know everything and in reality they don't know crap... All their work is based on assupmtions and guesses (granted they are their best medical guesses, but still in all they are still guesses). So don't judge a book by it's cover.

Anonymous said...

It's a double-edged sword. Imagine being an African American going to a hospital knowing all hospitals are completely devoid of African American doctors. The social side-effects are more damning.


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