Diversity, inclusion, and its sceptics

Captain Planet and his leadership team

The co-founder of Basecamp and creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, published an article this week titled, The waning days of DEI’s dominance. David was never a fan of diversity, equality, and inclusion policies, and is now breaking his silence as he considers them in decline.

There are many clichés in this article presented as refreshing antidotes to the consensus. Those that champion equality are zealots waving pitchforks, those in positions of power are cowed blah blah blah Twitter mobs, blah blah elites (said with no hint of irony from an influential millionaire). You have read exactly the same thing 100 times before in 10 different papers. The only thing new in this is what prompted David to think efforts for inclusion were merely a temporary cultural phenomenon.

Here are the four reasons offered for the predicted wane:

None of these seem like positive forces to me, but more importantly, are not things I would rest any theories or approaches on. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

We can skip right to the conclusion without wading through any more:

The central premise of DEI, that discrepancies between demography statistics and employment reality, is defacto proof of discrimination is simply false. The sooner this erroneous analysis fade from prominence, the better for all.

So, like me, you might be wondering, ‘what evidence does David cite to support this extremely bold claim?’ As with many successful tech-bros, his belief in his own assertions is enough for him, and it should be enough for you too. Why didn’t he tell the people who had their CVs rejected for having ‘Black’ sounding names,⁸ or ‘Muslim’ sounding names,⁹ or those with childrearing responsibilties?¹⁰ Structural disadvantage doesn’t exist and behavioural insights are meaningless unless applied to advertising.¹¹ These things are mere fabrications by the wokerati. Like David, I am very smart.

Successful tech entrepreneurs are an especially irritating breed that often conflate success in one area with having a super-brain able to diagnose complex societal problems. Meritocracy has long been a discredited idelogical construct, designed to explain and uphold existing hierarchies,¹² and he’s doing a great job of preserving this status-quo. It is a mild accomplishment that David managed to go two years seemingly without increasing his understanding of these issues at all.

Striving for more inclusive workplaces is not on the way out, despite some rich divs trying to manifest it. I maintain the best way to support diversity and inclusion is just to learn about other people, the world we inhabit, and how it came to be. All of this stuff is mentally nourishing in and of itself, and creating an inclusive workplace will mainly be an outgrowth of that.

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