The diversity religion is oddly familiar. It lacks borders, form, and physical substance. No one ever explicates what percentage the corporate-employee profile should comprise Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, women, men, Asians, Jews, gays, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, transgendered. It is just there, but we have no idea how it is there.
Does diversity amalgamate lifestyle, skin hue, religion? Does it amalgamate economic philosophy? Would a company composed of equal parts libertarians, conservatives, progressives, socialists, anachro-syndicalists, Marxists achieve diversity? Would diversity be achieved through reductio ad absurdum -- a diversity of intelligence: geniuses, normals, imbeciles, half-wits. The faces might look the same, but the working of the minds would differ -- voila, diversity?
I'll assume, a danger, to be sure, the illuminati equate diversity with the general categorization of the population by statisticians working on the taxpayers' dime. Corporate governance and those governed should be composed in representative proportions to the meaningless categorizations bureaucrats use to categorize the population. Whatever percentage of the general population categorizes as Black, White, Hispanic, gay, etc. that percentage, or a close approximation, should compose corporate America's boardrooms and cubicles.
Zealousness can blind the believer to reality. Diversity zealots demand diversity, even when it shines before their eyes.They assume singularity in race, religion, and sexual preference. All Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, gays, women, men, etc. think and act as one within their respective categories. The individuals within each category are essentially fungible, but the categories themselves differ. Therefore, the categories must be mixed and matched to create true diversity, even if that diversity exists within each category: Thomas Sowell/Cornell West, Noam Chomsky/Ben Shapiro, Peter Thiel/Elton John, Sean Penn/James Wood.
Yes, but I ignore the great moral imperative, the greater social-justice aspect. The pursuit of diversity rights a historical wrong: systemic discrimination. Systemic discrimination itself, we are bludgeoned, is the product of two wrongs: At one end, the belief those less fortunate are genetically less capable. At the other end, the belief those less fortunate are victims of an inviolable hegemony's discrimination.
But is it so, or is it simply a parroted meme of a cult? I assert the latter. Names are never spoken. If discrimination is systemic, someone must be practicing it. The someones are individuals. The individuals organize into businesses. Name the individuals and businesses. No one ever does, and yet somehow "systemic discrimination" abounds.
The demand to generate alpha in our business is insatiable. A few basis points of beta-beating return can mean millions, if not billions, of dollars to a firm. Who in this business can afford the luxury to discriminate against an alpha-generating employee if that employee is of different hue, hair texture, religion, or some other non-essential characteristic? I can think of no one.
At the heart of it all is the fallacy that group outcomes would equal if there were no biased interventions. Unfortunately, we are presented a lovely hypothesis negated by an ugly fact. In no time in history when an open society has openly competed that all population categories experienced equal outcomes. Jews have been disproportionately represented in retailing, finance, and media; Southeast Chinese in computer technology; Germans in brewing, pharmaceuticals, and auto production; Irish in political representation; Italians in construction; blacks in athletics; women in nursing and teaching. Statistical under- or over-representation is the norm. For centuries, members of various professions, and most business owners in entire industries, have been members of some particular race or religion.
Is Brown Capital Management an exemplar?
Brown Capital Management is a smaller money management firm located in Baltimore. Its founder and eponym, Eddie Brown, started his company in 1983. Brown Capital Management has grown to realize $18 billion of assets under management and hire 36 employees. Brown Capital Management's employee roster is a social-justice warrior's dream come true. A minority, African Americans, is the majority. Women are prominently represented. White men are a distinct minority.
But is Brown Capital Management's diversity a facade? I viewed the employee photographs. Once my eyes travel south of the neckline, a singularity appeared. Everyone was attired according to professional gender norms: The men were attired in Oxford shirts, a tie, and a suit jacket; the women were attired in a blouse or button-down top, most wore a blazer or jacket. The colors, referring to clothing, were a conservative, consistent navy blue or dark gray. Everyone smiles warmly.
When it comes to the work of money management, the raison d'etre, I doubt there is much diversity at Brown Capital Management. I would bet dollars to dimes that the culture is singular: a professional pursuit of long-term, benchmark-beating returns on its AUM.
But Brown pondered in a 2020 Barron's interview why his firm's AUM isn't larger. Why not $50 billion instead of the $18 billion ($14 billion at the time of the interview)? He implied a reason, though he did not say it, he implied that discrimination was the reason.
I question Brown's implication. Does Brown Capital Management have the infrastructure to handle a large influx of assets? Do most of his funds and managed accounts perform comparably or better than the competitions'? Is its marketing effective? I know the answer to none of these questions. Given the fierce competition in money management to generate alpha, though, I am skeptical that any investor would overlook a money management firm that has proven it can generate superior returns. Everyone in our profession values green.
Brown goes on to assert that too few people of color and women populate the money management space. He asserts, but he offers no optimal number. How many people of color and women should populate the space? Brown goes on to say that "firms need to make a bigger effort to be diverse. People used to say, 'I can’t find Black people with credentials and experience.' Well, you have to have a commitment to seek out those people."
True enough, but the same could be said for all people. Many firms should be more diligent in seeking quality people. But let's examine the other side of the coin: credentialed, experienced Blacks (and everyone else) need to commit to selling themselves to potentially interested employers. If they competently market their analyst bona fides, I question why they would have more difficulty than anyone else in getting hired.
(Full disclosure: I have money invested with Brown Capital Management. If Brown Capital Management were to open its wildly successful Brown Capital Management Small Company Fund (BCSIX) to new investors, I would invest more. Diversity, though, had no influence on my investment decision. Historical performance and fit within my portfolio were the overarching considerations. I am satisfied with the return Brown Capital Management's competent employee roster has generated to date; hence, my inclination to invest more. That said, I could not care less if the roster comprised all Blacks, all Whites, or any particular combination of race, religion, lifestyle, or gender categorization.)
Where is the evidence? Where is the evidence diversity is a company's strength? I assert that it is not diversity, but, to the contrary, the ability to overcome diversity, and to act as one toward a concrete goal that leads to success.
A singular culture, therefore, is a competitive advantage, though it has to arise from mutual cooperation and directives from within. To force diversity from without can lead to grotesque outcomes at the extreme. Yugoslavia attempted to incorporate diverse ethnicities into one unit. The horrors of the Croatian-Serbian War were the consequence. Coercive diversity has always proven antithetical to comity.
Social-justice warriors obsess over inequalities among races and ethnicities, frequently pounding the table over the chimera of systemic discrimination and heirloom hegemony. Seldom do they ponder how members of a less economically successful categorization might improve their lot by availing themselves of the culture of a more prosperous categorization. A culture that promotes prosperity for one will promote prosperity for all. You tell me the benefits of tamping down with diversity the prosperity-producing qualities of one category's culture with the poverty-promoting qualities of another's.