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Apple’s head of diversity is actually correct here

Summary:
It's somewhere between worrying and amusing to see someone being hoist by their own petard while actually speaking the truth, as is the case here with Apple's head of diversity:The first ever vice-president of diversity for Apple has apologised for saying that a room full of “white, blue-eyed, blonde men” can be as diverse as a team which includes women and people of colour.Denise Young Smith, who is herself African American, told a conference in Colombia that diversity did not necessarily mean a range of skin colours or gender.“Diversity is the human experience,” she said.  “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of colour, or the women, or the LGBT.“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse

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It's somewhere between worrying and amusing to see someone being hoist by their own petard while actually speaking the truth, as is the case here with Apple's head of diversity:

The first ever vice-president of diversity for Apple has apologised for saying that a room full of “white, blue-eyed, blonde men” can be as diverse as a team which includes women and people of colour.

Denise Young Smith, who is herself African American, told a conference in Colombia that diversity did not necessarily mean a range of skin colours or gender.

“Diversity is the human experience,” she said.  “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of colour, or the women, or the LGBT.

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”

But she later apologised for her remarks.

“I regret the choice of words I used to make this point,” she wrote in an email to colleagues, leaked over the weekend. 

The point being of course that she's entirely correct. Diversity moves along varied axes, as was pointed out a decade back in The Trouble With Diversity. Melanin contents, gender, sexuality, certainly, those are some of them. But so also are life experiences - our prototypical blue eyed blond male from the Finnish backwoods is going to have an interestingly different view of life from that of the equally melanin deficient Bondi Beach surfing dude.

Further, as the book itself points out, those who have gone through the same classes at the same universities have, whatever their diversity along some axes, near none along those relating to intellectual variation. Groupthink, however the group is created, is a real and important thing. 

Which brings us to the underlying justification of the insistence upon diversity. For this is what the argument itself is. We want to incorporate in decision making processes as many as possible of the different human experiences and viewpoints as we can. Excellent, we should do so. But that does indeed mean diversity, not monothink.

Which group will be showing more of the important form of diversity? The multi-hued and multi-gendered graduates of a recent degree in Gender and Critical Studies? Or an appallingly monoethnic grouping of, say, one or two of us, Paul Mason,  Owen Jones, a sprinkling from Trots'R'Us and a pairing from the more fundamentalist arm of the Southern Baptists insisting upon Biblical absolute truth?

It's certainly not going to be true that the second lot will suffer from groupthink, is it? 
 

Tim Worstall

Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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