Self-Knowledge at the New York Times

Yesterday the New York Times editorial board delivered a stern message to America’s tech companies: “Silicon Valley’s Diversity Problem” was the title of the editorial.

Recent data from those companies [Apple, Google and Facebook] and others like them confirm what everyone has long known: Most of their employees are white and Asian men.

We certainly can’t have that. The Times explained why diversity is such a great thing:

Many studies show that companies with gender and ethnic diversity tend to be more creative and more profitable, because varied perspectives help them design products and services that appeal to a diverse, worldwide audience.

And the paper had several suggestions for how Apple, Google, etc. can work on their diversity problem, like recruiting from a broader range of colleges and universities, adopting the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” requiring that a minority be interviewed for each job opening, and so on.

Like all the paper’s editorials, this one ends with a link: Meet the New York Times’s Editorial Board. I am sure you can see what is coming. The Times says it is a “problem” that “Most [Silicon Valley] employees are white and Asian men.” So let’s count! Sure enough, 11 of the editorial board’s 19 members are white or Asian men. Worse, only one out of 19 is African-American. That’s a little under one-half the proportion of African-Americans in the population. How about a Rooney Rule for the New York Times?

Even more notable, of course, is the lack of philosophical diversity on the editorial board. As far as I know, it doesn’t include any conservatives, even though surveys indicate that there are close to twice the number of conservatives as liberals in the U.S. Remember the value of diversity: “varied perspectives help [companies] design products and services that appeal to a diverse, worldwide audience.” Actually, people of different skin colors may or may not have different perspectives, but people of different political philosophies certainly do. It is hard to deny that diversifying the political orientation of the editorial board would help the Times “appeal to a diverse, worldwide audience.” But I don’t suppose that is the paper’s goal: it is of liberals, by liberals, and for liberals. That is their prerogative, but it is laughable to be lectured on diversity by a monolithic group like the Times’s editorial board.

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