When Intel released its diversity report last week, it grew to lack diversity in its executive staff.
Intel is one of the few companies to be transparent about diversity. Considering that lack of diversity is the problem we want to solve, it is stupid. This is only going to make it harder to solve the problem. In fact, Intel did the right thing and was punished for it.
Like individuals, firms will be less likely to do the right thing if punishment is their reward. Given that we have been working since the 1970s to fix this problem, largely unsuccessful, it amazes me that taking positive steps to make progress is a more prudent approach than beating those companies Is doing the right thing.
Problem of change and transparency
We are rigid to avoid blame. I have a cousin who believes that he will live life if he spends enough time to avoid blaming it, whereas my view is that if you take the time to do something right at first, then there is a difference. Does not matter. The result is better because there is no mistake.
However, to fix a problem you must first see it. You should measure it, and then you can show progress towards correcting it.
The Human Problems Underlying Intel’s Diversity
When we focus on faults, we provide incentives to cover problems rather than solve them, and this is a big problem in business right now.
If you take a look at the issues of nearby officers who are abused for most of the women in their careers, you will usually see a failure to quickly address the warning signs. At some point, there was no option but to cover the problem.
If you catch and fix such early behavior, then you have a very high probability of preventing incidents that will eventually harm the addict as well as the abuser – not to mention the company – if you spot the problem quickly. Ignore, then cover it up when it becomes sinister.
Also, covering this stuff when it becomes horrifying is clearly not working in the era of social media.
Intel and diversity
Now Intel’s early diversity reports don’t look good, but realize that the industry has been largely male for decades, and has a significant history of mistreatment of women. If you or I had a daughter, we would be stupid to recommend becoming engineers, and our peers did a very good job of keeping women out of this field.
This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight, as it goes back to the beginning of the section. You can’t pick up a magic wand and fix the lack of qualified female engineers we currently have.
Another point is that the initial executives of the firm are largely male and none of them are willing to leave their jobs so that the company can achieve gender balance. Think about it, if someone came to you yesterday and asked you to resign voluntarily to open a place for a minority, would you do it?
The company may force the result by randomly laying off male employees, but assuming that they are competent, such a move would destroy employee loyalty. It is likely that significant disruptions to work groups will lead to a decline in overall performance. In addition, it will probably leave the company open for litigation, as it is illegal to make a job decision based on sex, regardless of the method.
This is a bigger problem than many people, because every good working group has one or two people who work that group. These are people who promote communication, who step in when they see a difference in tasks, and who take additional steps that make it fun to work in the department.
We don’t do a good job of identifying those people, so a random layoff often does more harm than you think, as it can eliminate those important elements of a team. We often treat employees as if they are counterpart machines, but they are not.
Finally, and especially when it comes to pay inequality, we have a zero-sum game. This means that when you increase the income of a group outside the qualification, in order to keep costs down, you must reduce the salaries of others.
We know that increasing salary does not have a material effect on productivity, but wage cuts can have a broad adverse effect on productivity.
In both cases, the effort could lead to a rapid death, as it would adversely affect the company’s performance.