GigaOm has a good overview of the recent diversity data released by major tech companies after a push by Jesse Jackson. The data shows women, and blacks underrepresented compared to total US population ratios, but no comparison to Silicon Valley-specific numbers. Asians are massively overrepresented, but this reflects the large number of Indian and Chinese engineers who have migrated to the Bay Area. There is no data on age, which would likely show a deficiency of older workers.
This is a fine example of the conflict between meritocratic equality of opportunity and equality of outcome proponents. The lack of representation of women and blacks in computer science and engineering courses, majors, and graduates means it is impossible for all or even one company to recruit enough qualified women or minority workers to show proportional representation. Great pressure to do so would mean compromising quality and hiring less capable employees, and less capable programmers are actually worse than useless to a team — they hold back progress on a task. A super-programmer is capable of producing 100x as much valuable output as a mediocre programmer, and a bad programmer produces output that actually decreases the viability of the product.
The apparent belief of our bureaucratic masters is that there is a binary function: qualified or unqualified. A company which hires the objectively best candidate for a job is not protected from claims of discrimination; the bar must be set low enough so that there is a pool of “qualified” candidates, and the hiring should prefer the candidates from underrepresented classes until the workforce is representative. This views employees as replaceable cogs that each have the same value to the work product, very much an old industrial union idea — where those who did more were pressured to stop overachieving so as to make slackers look average.
This is, of course, a recipe for failure in a competitive, international marketplace. We all await their efforts to equalize men in nursing and teaching, as well as all the other fields where there are notable group differences in interest and ability.
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations
[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]
The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.
Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”
Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.
When you talk about these companies, why do you only talk about engineers? None of these companies are even half made up of engineers; there are sales, tech support, and many other functions, very few of which have any dependency on the loner Aspie super-star coder. Yet the diversity figures are a fail across the entire company, not just engineering.
I would further make the case that great products don’t come from superstar loners, but from good-to-great teams that can work together. Superstars build code that is brilliant, inscrutable, untreatable, and user-hostile.
A deep look into the figures shows that much of the imbalance is due to engineering, while other functions are closer to balance. HR departments are often majority female. Internet companies are generally mostly engineers, while Apple with its retail arm can show more diversity.
The fact remains that all of this companies have certainly tried to hire more women and minorities during their growth, but simply couldn’t without compromising their mission. Efforts in that direction have to come before college majors are chosen.