As the Democrats take control of the House in the new year, reports are emerging that corporate quotas will be a high priority for House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters and her colleagues. They want to increase the number of women and minorities in America’s top boardrooms, set up subcommittees on corporate diversity and inclusion, and introduce legislation to force public disclosure of the sex and racial makeup of company boards.
This is the same politically correct agenda that is commonplace on college campuses, where race and sex pandering have led to the rise of bloated “diversity bureaucracies.” These aggressive organizations are ever-expanding in their reach and oversight into the lives of students and faculty. A 2018 report from The Economist highlighted a nationwide trend toward increased spending on useless administrative positions, which provide student services focused on racial and sexual politics.
Many of these jobs have little actual effect on diversity, and exist for the sole purpose of churning out hollow marketing campaigns and strategic plans that appeal to donors and college ranking organizations. Many administrators have an almost militant devotion to cultivating a politically correct campus atmosphere. But in so doing, they sometimes invent oppression where none exists, and emphasize surface-level aspects of students’ identities like skin color and sex above actual life experiences.
Cultish Devotion to Skin Color and Chromosomes
This cultish devotion to identity politics that was once limited to campus is invading the corporate space, and its new reign in American boardrooms would only be further cemented by Rep. Waters’ proposed regulations. Of course, many companies fear what increased government scrutiny could mean for their hiring and promotion practices.
Business leaders are already working with key players on Capitol Hill to discuss ways to increase race- and sex-based promotions among their ranks. Unfortunately, this is likely not out of any genuine desire to increase diversity, but instead driven by anxiety over what the government will do if they do not conform. In the end, we have a government fear campaign forcing companies into identity politics expansion efforts. It’s hard to see how anyone could call that “progressive.”
Democrats’ plan to mandate that businesses publicly disclose the sex and race breakdowns of corporations’ top leadership is frightening. Essentially, they aim to name and shame companies that do not fit their idea of what a diverse leadership should be. Very soon, companies could be led to make decisions about promotions or leadership appointments based on skin color or sex instead of merit.
The Rise of Corporate Affirmative Action
Pressure from Democrats in Congress will likely expand corporate affirmative action, which actually harms minority groups. It’s not progressive to give a person of color or a woman an accolade or promotion based largely on their minority status—it’s insulting to their work ethic and actual abilities. A coerced effort to diversify leadership can also create a culture of resentment in workplaces, since it would devalue promotions or rewards given to minorities who have actually earned them. Some people will unfairly assume they received it due to their race or sex.
These proposed regulations just give House Democrats de facto power over hiring decisions at private corporations. While it’s a good thing to have increased minority representation in corporate settings, it should not come about as the result of government coercion that places political correctness over a company’s success.
It is diversity of ideas and experiences that drive success in a corporate setting. Diversity of human experience is what matters, not what demographic categories everyone sitting around a boardroom table checks off on the census. Diversity can mean racial diversity.
But, as Denise Young Smith, Apple’s former vice president of diversity and inclusion, said: “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde 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.” Smith, an African-American, faced harsh criticism from many on the left for this comment, because it didn’t play into their intersectional narrative of oppression.
One thing is clear: if corporate America is going to avoid the same diversity madness that has taken control of college campuses, business leaders must reassert their autonomy and push back against the government overreach of House Democrats solely concerned with pandering to the political correctness crowd.