top of page
  • Márcia Fervienza

If We Are All Equals, Why Do We Need Diversity?

In the age of victimization, there is no group of victims as large or recognized as those of racial and gender minorities.

Living in the United States as a latin woman, I fit in at least one minority group. I don't see myself in those terms. But the desire to identify and idealize minorities can be so huge that some insist on interacting with me as a member of a class of victims. The intention of these people is good. But who does this approach serve?

Although the identification of disadvantaged groups and the identification of prejudices are necessary for the search for equal opportunities for all genders and races, the politicization of this issue creates two significant problems: the degeneration of the discussion and the exaltation of subjectivity.

We use statistics and numbers as mechanisms to earn power for minorities. We take research results that (with their limitations) are objective information about demographics and use them to justify our subjective perception of reality, creating causal relationships and links where they don't exist. Thus, we say: "Research shows that the number of black CEOs is infinitely lower than that of white CEOs. I think whites are racist. Therefore, the fact that there are no more black CEOs is the whites' fault. " Or we say: "Studies show that very few women work in careers in science and technology. I believe that all men are evil rapists. Thus, the fact that there are few women in science and technology careers is men's fault." Then, without any causal relationship determined by research and without any consistency, these ideas evolve.

When we arrive at such conclusions, the logical next step is to defend the end of these differences, of course! Let there be more women in CEO positions and science and technology areas! But, in doing that, we assume that there is a perfect uniformity between groups. We argue that [INSERT MINORITY] group would have the same opportunities if it weren't for the interference of [INSERT OPPRESSOR GROUP] because we are all perfectly capable of the same things - and we have the same interests. But, if this is true, why the clamor for diversity? If we are all equals, we are also all expendable, because any of us bring the exact same qualities and skills to the table. Thus, nobody truly makes a difference.

Do you understand how these two concepts cannot inhabit the same reality? Either we are all different, and therefore we need the right combination to capitalize on unique qualities and have a qualified heterogeneous group. Or we are all the same, and each human being has the same skills to the same degree of competence as any other, which makes us ultimately expendable and replaceable.

If we ask for diversity, we must recognize the lack of uniformity. And if we recognize the lack of uniformity, we must accept that our skills are different. So, how can we demand everyone to be treated the same if we are all different? Now, if the fight is for equal opportunities to all people and their various aptitudes, interests, and skills, it makes more sense. In this case, however, we have a different problem: in order to grant the same amount of opportunities to the full range of diverse skills and interests available in our society, there must be social demand for said skills. In which case, if the full range of resources available isn't in use it is because there isn't demand, not because of prejudice.

Our problem would then lie in the fact that our prejudices make us value some skills more than others. But we can't draw from that the simplistic conclusion that if we are less qualified in the areas most valued by society, then we are less valuable.

My point is: it isn't about being equals but equally having social and professional opportunities for all kinds of skills. It isn't about saying that anyone could perform any job at any skill level. It is about listening to each individual of working-age in our society and creating job opportunities for their interests and skills as well.

When talking about groups, whenever people say different, we hear inferior. It was this biased listening that made James Damore lose his job. He was a Google engineer who got fired in August 2017 after posting on a Google message board that women are not as present in the tech arena because they aren't biologically wired for engineering, nor do they usually have the same interest. He didn't say that women were inferior to men, he simply said that they were different. Is he wrong? No! I am different from men. In fact, I love being a woman, and I wouldn't trade that for anything! I don't consider myself better or worse, only deliciously different.

But the fact that different translates into inferior made his speech politically incorrect. And because marketing is all about perception, we don’t stand anymore for what is right, but for what the oppressive majority wants to hear. Thus, Google made the easiest move: fired him. And this is sad because such attitude encourages homogeneity more than diversity. It also sends women the subliminal message that they should value themselves in comparison to men as their equals, not by their intrinsic values and abilities. Does that mean that, socially, women have no inherent value of their own unless they can present themselves as possessing the same skills as men’s?

This is a general movement in our society. We measure the value of groups identified as marginalized by how similar they are to the majorities or the groups considered (unjustly) free from marginalization. The famous "privileged." Equality and uniformity have thus become the same thing.

Likewise, Apple's diversity manager (a black and talented woman) lost her job because she dared to suggest that even within a group of white men you will find differences. She approached diversity as part of the human experience, something that goes beyond gender, race, and biological makeup. And she got criticized for that. Being white became socially so empowering that it completely negates all other aspects of a person's existence: nationality, sexuality, socioeconomic knowledge, religious past, philosophical foundations, everything.

On the same line, subjectivity has earned such sovereignty that current positions on gender and race have become mere social constructs proclaimed to have no basis in biology or science. Therefore, they say, we shouldn't value it. However, we must have a perfectly uniform race and gender diversity in all the most desirable professional positions, because they are critical variables in these equations. This is because, they justify, people of different races and genres bring varied experiences and perspectives to the table. Still, we should never talk about the fact that different people have different inclinations and that these shapes who they are. If we do, they will say that this is because we are part of the "privileged" group of men and white. And so on, on a circular argument that goes nowhere but continues forever. See how incongruous the speech is?

Now, why is this important?

Because we have real problems in the world that need immediate attention. For example, the rates of imprisonment among blacks in Western societies are very high. Women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs (which is not to say that there is a pay gap between men and women). Men are overrepresented in occupations with higher fatality rate. Rape rates are alarming. Mental health problems take too many lives every year - especially men's. And these are just some of the most urgent issues we face.

Any good scientist knows that to change a result, we must first accurately diagnose its cause. And the problem of making such topics part of the political discussion is that, when we politicize them, people stop looking for answers and start looking for scapegoats. It ceases to be about finding solutions, and it becomes a mission to determine who is to blame. Meanwhile, the world suffers from the real consequences of these problems.

It may be that after a thorough investigation it turns out that men and whites account for 90% of the world's problems. But today we have no evidence of that, only feelings created by our subjective experience of reality. Therefore, a rigorous investigation is necessary before we quickly condemn whole groups of people.

This is not a game where blacks win and whites lose, or women win and men lose. It is a reality where we all win or lose together because there is only one Earth, and we all we have to share it.

[Inspired by this article!]

bottom of page