The limits of corporate wokeness

The Washington Post moans that “despite diversity vows, wide racial gaps persist in corporate leadership” (the quote is from the print edition headline). The “vows” occurred after the death of George Floyd. The “wide gap” amounts to the difference between black representation in the U.S. population (12 percent) and black representation among the “highest corporate leaders” (8 percent, according to the Post).

If one takes this story at face value, I think it’s additional evidence that the insanity resulting from Floyd’s death was only temporary. The best evidence is the decline and probable demise of the “defund the police” movement.

Why should the fact that Derek Chauvin used grossly excessive force on George Floyd lead to an increase in the selection of black corporate executives? The tragic Floyd-Chauvin encounter bears no logical relationship to the racial composition of high-level corporate jobs. Any relationship is a figment of BLM’s imagination.

Thus, if “diversity vows” stemming from Floyd’s death haven’t erased “wide racial gaps in corporate leadership,” this means common sense has prevailed.

But is there a wide racial gap in corporate leadership? Based on the data the Post presents, the answer is no.

As noted above, the Post asserts the existence of the gap based on its finding that Blacks are 12 percent of the population and 8 percent of high level executives. But high level corporate executives are not drawn from the general population or from the non-incarcerated population, of which Blacks make up a slightly smaller percentage. No reasonable person would argue that they should be.

Corporate executives are, and should be, drawn from the portion of the U.S. population that it is highly accomplished. Do Blacks make up 8 percent of that population?

I doubt it. Consider the portion of graduating high school students who are highly accomplished. First, to a disproportionate extent, Blacks don’t graduate from high school.

Second, Blacks don’t make up 8 percent of the highly accomplished students who do graduate. We know this because, if it were otherwise, elite colleges wouldn’t have to grant stark racial preferences to attain 8 percent black representation.

But statistics show that they must grant such preferences if they are to admit that percentage. Absent preferences, elite colleges, and many others, would be hard pressed to get to half of 8 percent.

Next, consider law school performance. Do Blacks make up 8 percent of highly accomplished law students? I don’t think so.

They didn’t when I was on the hiring and recruiting committee of my former law firm. Top law firms had to reach far below the top 10 percent to extend more than a tiny number of offers to Blacks.

Additional evidence came from professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania law school, before the school silenced her. Wax had the audacity to say “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class [I teach to first year law students] and rarely, rarely in the top half.” Her law school was outraged by this statement, but didn’t (and I assume couldn’t) dispute its accuracy.

Something very similar happened at Georgetown law school. It fired an adjunct professor for saying, privately, that Blacks make up a disproportionate number of low-performing students in the class she taught.

Thus, if Blacks really do make up 8 percent of top corporate executives, it’s likely that they are overrepresented in these jobs if the criterion is merit, as it should be, rather than skin color. And if George Floyd’s tragic encounter with Derek Chauvin hasn’t helped pushed the percentage above 8 percent, that’s evidence that, as woke as it is, corporate America hasn’t completely lost its mind.

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