How Diversity Happens

Henry Ward, founder and CEO of our portfolio company Carta, wrote a post yesterday outlining the gender inequity on cap tables throughout the startup landscape.

It is a good post and I would recommend you click through and read it.

In it, Henry writes:

When I started Carta I didn’t focus on diversity because I was worrying about staying alive. Then we hit our growth phase and went from 20 employees to 400 in 48 months. I assumed diversity would happen on its own. Of course it didn’t. I didn’t realize how much deliberate focus it takes. I do now.

That is a pretty typical story.

A few years at our annual CEO summit, Scott Heiferman, founder and CEO of Meetup, told a room full of startup CEOs that you have to build diversity into your company from day one because if you don’t, it becomes so much harder later on. He explained that nobody wants to join a company where nobody looks like them. That really hit home and woke quite a few people up.

All companies and people suffer from back burnering things. You focus on what you must get done and everything else takes a back seat.

That doesn’t work when it comes to hiring and diversity. You have to prioritize it and make it intentional.

We have done that recently at USV and we are getting the desired results.

That is very exciting to me.

#entrepreneurship#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Agree completely.Interestingly, a decade and more ago, before this term was attached to the idea, and I was building a large, decentralized global marketing team, my insistence was a mirror of the team and the market it was serving.Strip everything away and this is not just the right thing, but the smart one.

    1. LE

      Interestingly, a decade and more ago, before this term was attached to the idea, and I was building a large, decentralized global marketing team, my insistence was a mirror of the team and the market it was serving.I think what you mean is actually ‘that the team was a mirror of the market that it was serving’.

    2. JamesHRH

      Mirroring is a great idea. Old Man Watson grew IBM on that principle.

  2. jason wright

    “nobody wants to join a company where nobody looks like them.”is he serious? where’s the evidence to support that generalisation? such a sweeping statement, one that requires probing.if you’re talking about positive discrimination then Albert Wenger’s UBI (although i think it should be called UHI – Universal Human Income) proposal is the better route forward. It emphasises ‘universality’ (which is none discriminatory), while ‘positive’ is just another form of discrimination. UBI is objective. PD is not. It is tinkering, and dangerous tinkering, because it inevitably leads others to believe they are being discriminated against because they do not ‘fit’ the PD profiles being advantaged, and then we end up with a Trump, who plays to this audience. neo liberals reap what they sow. it’s tragic to behold.Diversity will happen when the framework of the economic system is reformed, but that’s not on the liberal elite’s agenda, hence the tinkering alternative.

    1. Richard

      There is an economic reason for diversity. In some cases the net sum productivity for the company increases. UBI is another story. It’s been tried. It’s a disaster.

      1. JamesHRH

        Actually, almost every study shows that jobs drive behaviours and that diversity does not.In essence, a Latina CEO has to act like a CEO to be successful and her Latino and female aspects are the icing, not the cake.

        1. Richard

          I don’t believe Fred is talking about the C – level.

          1. JamesHRH

            Applies at every level. CEO was just an example.

      2. jason wright

        we are all so much more similar to one another than we are different. the cult of individuality is a liberal deceit. we do not choose our ethnicity, our gender, our sexuality, but they are used in the political game of discrimination, ‘negative’ and ‘positive’. replace that with universality, and allow people the opportunity to strive to be whatever they want to be based on their talent and the tenacity to succeed.

        1. JLM

          .We are not similar on the outside and for 0.5″ deep, but we are at the core except for our cultural imprint.I had a mess of draftees in the early 1970s and had to train them into a coherent unit. Had experienced platoon sergeants, squad leaders, team leaders, new platoon leaders (2nd and 1st Lts).They were the most diverse group of people you could imagine by race, ethnicity, education, and geographical origin. They were, obviously, all male.The draftees had a bone to pick with which I always sympathized, they had had their lives turned on their ear and were somewhere they did not want to be. This spawned a lot of anger. Anger is not good when you are around dangerous stuff and operating heavy equipment.When I got done training them — which was constant and never really done because I would lose soldiers and get replacements regularly — they were quite homogeneous and functioned as squads, platoons, and, ultimately, a company of four platoons.They were a very good unit and got the top grade in the entire US Army on their ARTEP (Army Training and Evaluation Program, an annual proficiency test)That is until payday and they reverted to whomever they had been when they arrived. All the black guys hung together. The Puerto Ricans all spoke nothing but Spanish. The Boston Southies hung together. The rednecks, the Texas boys, the California boys, the city boys, the farmers.What had been cohesive just busted apart until the fights started with the Military Police and then they joined ranks again.I remember being unable to remember whether a guy was a draftee or a volunteer when I watched them doing their jobs. I used to talk to all of them all the time. I was in my mid twenties with a bit of power over them as an officer and many of them were college grads. Not really that much different, but our relative ranks.I had been in the Army long enough that the authority and power sat easy on my shoulders. I didn’t need to use it to impress anybody.Whenever a guy would get in a crack, they would all devolve into little boys and I would end up having to be their father figure. I jealously retained the right to discipline them, never letting them be exposed to the authority of the battalion, brigade, or division.I got my ass in a crack twice for doing this cause I had guys picked up from the stockade and returned to the unit on my own authority.The MPs ran the stockade and they used to beat the shit out of the prisoners. I once got in a fight at the O Club with an MP Major over the treatment a soldier of mine had gotten.I was loyal to them, because I came from a military family and was taught that way, had been to a military school and taught that way, and because they worked hard for me.I was not a difficult disciplinarian, but I was firm and fair.I always thought the troops respected that. When I shipped out, I was touched by the many kind comments men would make to me the two days before I left. Many of my problem soldiers would tell me, “Shit, skip, you were fair. A prick, but a fair prick. I deserved it.”The sergeants in that unit chipped in and gave me a lovely set of pens and a demo knife from WWII set on a wooden plaque. I always appreciated that. In those days sergeants never made much money and they were damn sure not spending it on officers.I took all the sergeants to the Officers Club for an old fashioned drunk. The kind of thing you would get relieved for today. It was one of the most wonderful nights of my life. My O Club bill was a month’s pay.I tell this story because the whole issue of diversity and how it impacts the workplace is not new.You just have to treat people fair.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. jason wright

            by being fair (a form of universality, do we agree?) you were giving each and every one of them the opportunity to do something well and to the best of their abilities, a something that had nothing to do with being of the distinctions you mention, “All the black guys hung together. The Puerto Ricans all spoke nothing but Spanish. The Boston Southies hung together. The rednecks, the Texas boys, the California boys, the city boys, the farmers.”When we stand in line waiting to be born we’re not handed an a la carte menu from which to choose our diversities. we get determined. all we need is the universal opportunity to be determined about what we want to be, without fear or favour.

          2. JamesHRH

            Last sentence is the answer and it’s lack of application had caused most of the problem.

      3. JLM

        .Can you cite some examples?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I understand the sentiment, but it is a generalization. My experience, both personally and as a recruiter, is that people join companies (and often leave them) based on the way the leaders and others in the company think and act.Cosmetic diversity, however, can serve as an initial signal to the organization’s values and priorities. “Am I welcome here?” “What types of battles am I in for?”

  3. Alex Iskold

    Additional things I learned about diversity:1. Travel is key to diversity of your own mind2. Being an immigrant makes you naturally more diverse, more accepting, more travelled3. Diversity helps make better business decisions because most problems are really hard and best solved through annealing — this is precisely what happens when you have diverse group of people around the table.

  4. Angel L.

    Interesting…I don’t think about it that way. I just bring on board the best people. Great thing is that we have a pretty diverse team in FinTech Connector from Co-Founders to Advisors to Community Partners. Now we just need the diverse and inclusive investors. Hint, hint…

  5. andyswan

    Why do you have to prioritize diversity and make it intentional? Why, if you’re a merit-based individualist, would focusing on things that need to get done “not work”?

    1. Dan T

      Agreed. I retired from tech and work in the real world now. Over 1,000 employees with average wages around $15/hour in two businesses. Our salaried managers make on average about $65,000. There is no friggin way, we can focus on diversity. It’s really hard to find good people today – irrespective of their diversity. I was curious how this worked out and from our last 10 managers – 6 women, 4 men, 1 was african american and 1 was latino – that is about a 6 month sample.

      1. JLM

        .Yeah, well, the real world is frighteningly real.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Vasudev Ram

          “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”. Remember someone here saying that, likely you.

    2. aminTorres

      I am hungry. I will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am full now, that got the job done.I am hungry again,I will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am full now, that got the job done.I am hungry yet again,I will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am full now, that got the job done.

      1. JLM

        .Damn, I’m going downstairs and make a peanut butter sandwich. I don’t like jelly. I get this “natural” no preservatives crunch peanut butter at Whole Foods with brioche bread.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  6. Jeremy Robinson

    Amen Fred. Please keep preaching to the choir on this. Diversity does not happen on it’s own. Even though I’m a white male, I’ve spent a lot of my life learning about this space. When I was a kid my Mom- who was active in the Civil Rights movement, marched at Selma. I was scared as hell she wouldn’t come back but she did. It’s hard for someone who is different to be the one and only in a group or organization. Have you ever been the only white man in a group of women or black people? It creates stress and pressure. Many people start getting frustrated and annoyed when they are the one and only on a team or in an org. We humans seek acceptance and validation. The fact is that’s often hard to find true empathy and understanding from folks who are different than us. Also, studies that I’ve undertaken show that many white male leaders feel uncomfortable with women and black executives so rather than be uncomfortable with them, they avoid them by not asking them to join their teams. Diversity by design is going to make everybody feel out of our comfort zones. Continuing to tolerate and maybe even benefit from being out of our comfort zones is what “diversity success” looks like. It does not have a Hollywood ending. We need to be realistic about expectations, and move into the discomfort zone. Then we could learn something.One last question to people reading this: if you’re a white male, how many hours during the day do you think about race? And after you’ve answered that, ask this same question to a black colleague of yours, and compare the numbers.

    1. Richard

      Do the same experiment and control for success for by any measure. People who do not feel like a victim are happier. Thomas Sole does as a good of a job on this as any.

    2. JamesHRH

      Your last paragraph is irrelevant, because you are self selecting.Ask any adult how often they think about people or situations that keep them from security or success? The hours are the same – is it really a shocker that the topics are different?As a white male Silicon Valley outsider in the late 1990’s, we were completely frozen out. Didn’t hear anybody saying that VCs should up their ratio of CDN investees…..Its arbitrary and ridiculous.

    3. LE

      if you’re a white male, how many hours during the day do you think about race? And after you’ve answered that, ask this same question to a black colleague of yours, and compare the numbers.I gotta respond to this. Where did being black or being a woman or being transgender etc. become the gold standard of suffering?What makes anyone think that just because someone is not those things they don’t have some kind of pain or lack of acceptance by others in their life or adversity (medical, physical, mental, family)? That everything is rosy and everyone is just nice an accepting of them? Sure they don’t have the race, gender or sexual issue. But they have other issues. And those can be consuming just as much (in their mind).Here is an example – perhaps a good example. Fred has plenty of money. He has plenty of success. He has a wonderful family and multiple vacation homes. He knows a great deal of important people. He has a full life with friends. He is respected. Well known. And of course he is white and not only that he has a full head of hair (I am not making a joke btw) and he is roughly 6 feet tall. So you think he wakes up every day and has no problems, issues or anything that bothers or aggravates him and that it’s all happy happy happy? I would guess that is not the case.One thing that you have to have in life is a positive attitude to get ahead and have good things. Quite frankly constantly thinking of yourself as a victim and trying to complain and not look at what you can do is counter productive in so many ways and not helpful.This has nothing to do with things that your mother did when she marched etc. That’s great and great that she did that for others. But at a certain point this idea that everyone else (who is not black) has no problems is simply wrong. They do have other problems just not those issues. People should be happy for what they have not unhappy for something they don’t have and continue to think of themselves as a victim and then depending on someone else to change (or society) rather than doing the best that they can everyday to improve their life even if it’s a difficult uphill battle.I think Richard’s comment below sums this up well ‘people who do not feel like a victim are happier’. Doesn’t mean don’t try to make something change but maybe not make it your sole focus in life perhaps.

  7. BillMcNeely

    Merit is there in a foot race. You win or lose. In employment its a little a harder. You have the hard data which is do you ave the skills or not. Then you have the can you get along or not factor, otherwise known as culture.The best way to keep government regulation out of business is to choose to do it your yourself. Your workforce should look like your state here in the US. In some states, (example MN) 90% of the population is white. So if 10% of your workforce is non white you are ok. Other places if 62% of the population is white the other 38% should be non white. If you see a huge disparity you may want to do something about this. same for gender etc.

  8. JLM

    .First, we should agree on the definition. Here’s mine.Diversity in tech — the inclusion and advancement in tech communities of persons without regard to their gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, socioeconomic status, politics, philosophy of lifeCompany A – Seasoned CEO hires “the best person” for every position. Does not discriminate against anyone. Just, hires the best.Company B – Newish CEO, influenced by virtue signaling VCs, force feeds the organization with hires in which the organization meets self-proclaimed hiring objectives of persons who meet specific “diverse” requirementsWhich company pursues EXCELLENCE? Which company actually achieves it?Having been a CEO for 33 years and an Army officer for 5 before that, I dealt with this issue before it was an issue.Sometimes the best man for a job is a WOMAN, but not because that is a hiring objective, but because it is simply the truth.I used to hire the top female grads of the University of Texas Finance department for years and years. Women who ranked in the top 5 in the class as shown on their report cards and class rank.All the guys were going to Wall Street. The women were going nowhere.I hired them, trained them as property managers, leasing agents, financial analysts, accountants – hired top notch athletes, taught them a position.I never did it because I was virtuous. I did it because I was smart and accessing an untapped pool of talent at a very attractive price and relationship.In return, they worked their butts off, were always amongst the best in the company, and were loyal as Hell.This is what we used to call “normal.” Normal has been on sabbatical for a long time.There are a lot of talkers out there. Take USV and Fred Wilson – good/great company, mensch, successful as Hell – been talking about diversity for years, just brought on their first female partner six months ago?Did that lack of diversity impact performance? Did that sudden new found diversity improve performance? Is it an exercise in tokenism? If not, why the Hell did it take a couple of decades to get there?Just hire and advance the best people.Your generation did not invent sex or business.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      I never did it because I was virtuous. I did it because I was smart and accessing an untapped pool of talent at a very attractive price and relationship.This is great. Because it actually echos what I did in the 80’s in my small company out of college. I would like to focus on this part of the sentence in your comment in particular:an untapped pool of talent at a very attractive priceI had, from memory, about 40% diverse talent out of 20 employees. Maybe even higher. Roughly. From memory. And why was that? Because we were a small company and a less desirable place to work. And the larger and more shiny companies (with nice facilities) wouldn’t hire those people so we got a chance to hire them. Lesbians, Gays, Blacks and so on. Made up easily, I am guessing 40% or more of people who worked for me. [1] Once again why? Because other places wouldn’t hire them. Oh yeah also single mom’s (wasn’t called single mom back then by the way) [2] and of course women. Tons of women. And these people (with a few exceptions) weren’t sharp or good looking. In fact I hired one woman, a bookkeeper, specifically because she wasn’t good looking (old and fat, sorry). At time I thought ‘nobody is going to hire her away from me’. And I was right. The good looking people? They never stayed around. They would go on an interview and get snapped up. Really things like that happen.And to your point, thank god nobody else wanted these people and we got them.[1] Not sure how to categorize a girlfriend of mine at the time (who worked for me at the company – I met her prior to starting the company) who ended up having a relationship with one of the lesbians. Yep that really happened.[2] In the 80’s it was perfectly fine to ask a single mom who got pregnant (or a potential employee who had children) if her mother was going to be able to take care of her kid(s) when they were sick. And they wouldn’t expect the employer to ‘just understand’ they used whatever resources they had to be able to show up for work and do their job.

      1. sachmo

        “[1] Not sure how to categorize a girlfriend of mine at the time (who worked for me at the company – I met her prior to starting the company) who ended up having a relationship with one of the lesbians. Yep that really happened.”I’m glad you threw that part in, LOL.

    2. LE

      You have to also wonder how far this thought should be taken with respect to the entire concept.For example why is it all about hiring? Why wouldn’t a company use it’s economic buying power to try and get contracts only with companies (for goods, services or outsourced services) that are themselves diverse?And then we can end up in the same place that we were with requiring large companies (or governments) to vend a certain amount of business to either small business, women owned business, or minority business.I have a pretty good understanding of all of that. I had customers that were simply fronts and middlemen that would give me work and then mark it up and resell it to Coca Cola (as only one example). Former secretary of the treasury, Azie Taylor Morton was one of those people. [1] Never forget the day she came in and signed for some work. The signature looked really nice. And even in the pre-internet days I did some research somehow (library?) and found out that she was secretary of the treasury during the Carter admin. Actually that is wrong. I compared her signature to a dollar bill I happened to have. That is why I recognized it (funny, eh?). And that is what she did. And she wasn’t the only one. Then there is the big electrical contractor that I knew (did large projects). He had two companies. One was in his wife’s name. So he could bid on woman owned set aside. Total sham. Gaming the system.I think Azie got the ‘in’ from Dr. J who was somehow part of the local bottling company or something like that.[1]

      1. JLM

        .The entire program of “set asides” wherein gov’t contracts set aside portions of public works projects for disadvantaged, minority, women’s, veteran’s subcontractors is fraught with corruption.I must have fielded 100+ calls from people who wanted to give me a piece of a company to be able to qualify as a VOE – Veteran Owned Enterprise.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          This is part of the problem with certain people. Academics, big thinkers, writers, creatives and so on. Oh yeah and authors.They have great ideas but no boots on the ground experience. So they don’t come close to understanding how a system that they setup or champion can and will be easily gamed and not achieve the objective. They are so pure and naive it’s really comical. Literally no understanding of how people will operate at the base level.And you know it comes from life experiences and school of hard knocks when you truly get to understand how people operate so you can predict the impact of some change or some idea seat of the pants. And what can happen and what you should do to protect from people that don’t think like you do.Why we have spam? Academics who designed the internet and in particular email, well, it never occurred to them that someone would think to use it to make money! Because (to my point) that is not the way that they think. So they didn’t design in any safeguards. [1] Ditto for controls put on domain names at the start. Nobody ever thought that there would be a reason to register a domain solely for the purposes of holding on to it to make money in some way. Why would that happen?Another great example is what happened after attorneys were allowed to advertise their services. I remember that in the 70’s when it happened. Boy did that end up being a big drag and ‘tax’ on business.[1] This is separate from whether it could have been done.

    3. JamesHRH

      I have never found an argument to counter this argument.

      1. Richard

        There are a few. The first is that it is really hard to pick the best from a lineup. It is is very subjective. The second is competition. I remember as a kid my jewish grandmother told me – you’ll have to work smarter or harder than the non jews in your company. The third is that the current generation – after 16 years of education is simply more comfortable and probably more productive in a multicultural eco-system. The fourth is it is a more entertaining environment. Would you really want to work in a company with 100 young Fred Wilson! Good grief Charlie Brown,

        1. Pointsandfigures

          I’d rather work with 100 Freds in my company than compete against them

          1. Donna Brewington White


        2. JamesHRH

          These are nice to haves. The need to haves are the capabilities definition.It’s not that hard to pick the best from a lineup and how does adding diversity make it easier?My oldest is 16 and she is, indeed, totally used to diversity. She would be offended to lose to one of them based on gender or race.Winning is the most fun, which is why hiring for winning is the smart move.

    4. falicon

      I look for diversity in thinking and life experiences (as much as possible).That’s really the only diversity initiative I focus on.In my experience, doing that right (and well) will end up ticking all the ‘other’ boxes anyway…and still let’s me just “hire the best”.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I think this is the goal. (Or at least should be.)The outward differences are only indicators of the potential for diversity in thinking and life experiences.Although, those indicators are not always reliable in terms of ethnicity since this is often superseded by socio-economics and cultural factors, etc.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        You are persistent. 🙂

        1. Twain Twain

          :*). The technology is supposed to serve us. If it’s not, that means it’s broken and needs to be fixed!

          1. ShanaC

            there is a school of thought that we are shaped by technology and it shapes us – which means that one some level, we might be broken

          2. Vasudev Ram

            Definitely some (or a lot of) truth in that. You only have to look at the effect of mobile phones on people. The effect extends to literally (mis)shaping (their necks). Not to mention radiation effects.

          3. Twain Twain

            We’re not broken. We got culturally conditioned to think in biased ways. Democracy was set up as a patriarchy:*…That’s why it took 2000 years for women to get the vote.And those systemic biases are in the machine logic:*…The biases are also against men because there has never been a perfectly rational man so they’re being fooled into being all rational, stoic and to suppress+deny their emotions too — lest they be seen as “weak”.Look at the recent brouhaha over Elon’s expressions of emotions.

    5. Michael Elling

      “All the guys were going to Wall Street.”Where they helped fuel the $300 trillion of global debt without regards to consequences for humanity.”The women were going nowhere.” Doesn’t your very point serve as a contradiction and support what Fred is saying? Racism, sexism, ageism, classism, is endemic in our socio-economic and political institutions. You were unwittingly supporting it by taking advantage of an arbitrage. You weren’t changing anything.

      1. JLM

        .Nonsense. Absolute, total nonsense.I was offering them jobs. I was actually hiring them. I didn’t talk about it. I did it. In some areas, they dominated that department of the company.I was paying them the exact same pay as men – not Wall Street pay, but fair ATX pay.I was offering them the opportunity for advancement and ensuring they advanced.I was training them for management, promoting from within.I was investing in them through our training programs and tuition for formal education.Nothing happened by accident, but I was not doing it in pursuit of tokenism, but because sometimes the best man for a job is a woman.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. JamesHRH

        He was takin advantage of the situation – capable employees who wanted jobs in TX.People refused to accept basic gender tendencies. Jeff used them to bulild Win/Win situation @ his firm.

  9. Tom Labus

    Fred could have auto filled everyone’s response

    1. JLM

      .Haha, funny, Tom. I guess readers could have written the blog post, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Tom Labus

        Next year

        1. JLM

          .Next year in Jerusalem. Leaves changing up there yet?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Tom Labus

            Still hot.

          2. ShanaC

            wrong holiday period….

          3. JLM

            .Yom Kippur ended on Wednesday, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. ShanaC

            yeah, but you say next year in Jerusalem during passover, not near yom kippur. So it is a spring sort of statement

  10. JLM

    <iframe width=”540″ height=”400″ src=”…” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen=””></iframe>If we are going to talk about “diversity” from a positive perspective, it is worthwhile to discuss the negative implications.I am aghast at the obvious and overt animosity toward conservatives as exhibited by the recent twin debacles of the Google “all hands” meeting post-2016 election and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey’s utterances.From the top down, the management of Google engaged in a pity party of gargantuan proportions which signaled their lack of inclusion of the half of the country which was pleased with the election.This was an election, not a core business function of Google. It was an election.I attach a small segment of the CFO’s wailing and gnashing of teeth. You would think her dog died.Not to be outdone, Jack Dorsey, in an interview said this: “…we have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.”Think about the portent of those two landmark happenings — the founder/CEOs of Google and Twitter acknowledged the reality that a conservative is neither welcome nor safe at their companies, companies they built with the notion of diversity and inclusion on their tongues.Pretty shocking that these are the same folks who are currently preaching “diversity.”Bottom line — diversity at these companies means the folks LOOK different, but THINK the same. That is not really diversity, is it?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      It’s actually funny how there is this assumption with respect to liberal thought that it is a canon by god’s decree and so absolute (like murder) and easily defined that there is no other way to think or believe. So instead of selling the features and benefits of the ‘product’ they simply will say ‘you are stupid for not buying this it’s so obvious you idiot’. And if you don’t want the ‘product’ after that they then cop an attitude as if ‘you are really clueless’.Even religion (the gold standard of manipulation in my book) doesn’t go that far. You have Rabbis respecting Priests (and vice versa) and being able to coexist with them (even sharing facilities or helping out in disasters) and it’s been that way at least as long as I have been around (not talking middle ages or biblical etc.). Even though what they believe or have been taught in many ways is vastly different. Yet they respect (and this is super important) that not everybody thinks or was brainwashed like they were into their beliefs. And they accept that.diversity at these companies means the folks LOOK different, but THINK the same. That is not really diversity, is it?When someone tells me a story about what someone has done (and it gets long) I always at some point say to them ‘ok define what the crime is’. In other words break it down so I can then charge them with an offense or tell them why they are wrong or I don’t agree or actually in some cases do agree that the crime was warranted.So let’s define the crime here. The crime is not that they all think the same. The ‘crime’ is that they are not willing in any way to accept that others don’t think the same way and they further disparage anyone who doesn’t think like they do. That is the crime that I am charging them with. Inability to accept other opinions or beliefs. Separate (and this is important) from how it impacts them personally. So if I don’t believe in recycling and it actually doesn’t impact you (directly because it doesn’t what one person does) then stop telling me I suck for what I think or believe. Now if I decide to run a big campaign to get others to stop recycling then you can tell me I suck because then I am creating impact on many others.Look, I am not a gun guy and I have no reason to buy or use a gun. Or go to a shooting range. But I fully understand that others have fun doing so and do it responsibly. So even though it’s not my thing I can see why they do it and even perhaps (separate from constitution) why they should be able to do that. And I don’t want others restricting what I find fun and they don’t and raining on my parade just the same. Ditto for abortion. I don’t think the same way you do about it. But I 100% would never tell you you were wrong for the way you feel about it (which is based on how you were raised and what you know that I don’t).

      1. JLM

        .The odd thing is that most times these “differences” are small and mean nothing in the greater scheme of life.Take, as an example, gay marriage. When the debate starts, every Dem is opposed to it using the positive utterance “marriage is between a man and a woman” as a blunt instrument.This is Obama, Clinton, et al.Then, something happens and they all abandon their aversion – famous Joe Biden incident cutting Obama’s feet out from under him. (What happened was a focus group.)Gay marriage becomes the law of the land.On my side of the fence – religion, conservatives – the world is ending.Haven’t heard a peep. I never thought much of it, meaning I did not support it, but I didn’t give a crap what anyone wanted to do with their own time.In ATX, I knew plenty of gay guys when I was the President of Austin Musical Theatre, some of the most talented and nice people I ever met. Maybe the greatest genius I was ever associated with. I couldn’t imagine he didn’t have the right not to pursue his own happiness.Turns out the world didn’t end. Nor, did gay marriage turn out to be great – gay marriage divorce rate is slightly higher than straight marriage divorce rate.We set ourselves up for disappointment. Why? Cause we aren’t open minded enough or, worse, we engage in group think.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. ShanaC

        The rabbis and the priests thing happened after people died. basically, death is the commonality that gets people over their issues (and I have to say, in parts of this country, even death still hasn’t gotten people to link up with each other)

        1. LE

          Do you mean because people died when they opposed each others beliefs?

          1. ShanaC

            surety of beliefs can create hate, and it isn’t until the consequences of hate come forward into ones life do people learn to like each other.I really don’t have an explanation of the wars of the reformation beyond that.

    2. Salt Shaker

      Hmm, not sure I get your point here JLM. Are you (facetiously) suggesting that, as long as we’re looking at diversity, perhaps diversity of thought should be woven into the hiring equation too? I think execs at companies like G and Twitter have every right to express their opinions on conservative or liberal values, if those perceptions have a direct bearing on their biz, which it certainly does wrt immigration.Do you think DJT should be calling out publicly traded companies by name who disagree w/ or challenge his policy decisions? Amazed the SEC hasn’t stepped in and try to curtail. Can have a direct impact on trading activity. Unprecedented to say the least.

      1. JLM

        .At the abusive end of a lack of diversity is the erection of a “hostile work environment” which is a legally defined term which has consequences.Uber (gender) and Google (ageism) can tell this story with the stubs in their checkbook. The US Congress has a damn taxpayer funded slush fund to deal with their zipper problems.There are many different paths to the same place. The law doesn’t care what path you take.Certainly a conservative working at either Google or Twitter would feel that he/she was in a hostile work environment.My goodness, the CEO of Twitter admitted they would not feel SAFE. Clearly the CEO and entire management of Google is sending the message that if you were happy with the election result, you are not welcome.In the case of Twitter there is nothing left to interpret, the CEO’s words are enough. In the case of Google same thing.If diversity builds strength, then on what possible basis would intellectual diversity of governing philosophy not be desirable – and, yet, it, clearly, is not.An executive at a public company has a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the shareholders – not a “feeling,” a legal obligation.WRT immigration, these companies may have a dog in the fight as it relates to H-1B visas, but it is a stretch to suggest they have a business interest in the entire world of immigration. If they do, it should be attacked like any other policy issue – lobby through the right channels. Support the right office holders.As to President Trump, he is a politician. I don’t see him having a seat at this table. As I have famously said for years, I love the guy’s policies – the rest of it PFFFFFFT! I consider him the chemotherapy we needed and continue to need.I am long since on record on that matter. For years.http://themusingsofthebigre…Where we seem to end up is the work force may look DIFFERENT, but you are required to think the SAME. That is not diversity. That is a hot house echo chamber in which intellectual freedom is banned.Is diversity of thought desirable?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          Certainly a conservative working at either Google or Twitter would feel that he/she was in a hostile work environment.This is particularly difficult for thin skinned millennial types who are used to being loved and coddled. [1] Growing up as I did in the age of abuse where we got yelled at and trashed by parents not the same for many of us. Look at you? It was stated very clearly that you are personna non grata in a few places that we both frequent and you came back stronger.But by the same token I am wrong if we put money into the discussion. If my co-workers don’t like me or what I believe in they will retaliate against me unless I can walk on water. And since most people are not primadonnas and can’t do that sure they are in for pain and a lower paycheck.[1] Psychologists and educators got that one wrong. Maybe next time it can be just ‘nicer’ not bend over and put on pedestal.

          1. JLM

            .In grad school, I was in a class at “peak anti-war” and it was a hoot. I had to put on my body armor before going to class. It was openly hostile. The teacher once said, “Shall we hear from our resident baby killer?”I got an A.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. sachmo

          When I went out to visit the Bay area a couple years ago, the same exact thing struck me.On the face of it, you have so called ‘diversity’.But if you could erase the street signs, you wouldn’t be able to tell if you were in San Mateo all the way down to Santa Clara. The neighborhoods, the houses, the little corner coffee shops, the small down areas in mountain view / palo alto / cupertino spanning the entire valley all look the same.The people I met are basically all at the extreme liberal end of the spectrum and all work for some random tech company… engineering, logistics, marketing, whatever. You don’t meet people from a wide intersection of life out there, at least i didn’t. In San Fran proper I struck up a conversation with a barista on her lunch shift — she ate quickly, complained about how tired she was, and was half taking a nap / slurping a red bull — turns out she worked 3 jobs. She was the only person I met who didn’t work at a tech company.Not that I have anything against tech (I work at a tech company god damn it!) but the tech ppl out there are so disconnected from how normal ppl live. Homogeneous in thought is exactly how I phrased it. The ‘diversity’ is a complete illusion.

      2. LE

        Short answer: Yes. Pox on both houses.Noting though that the latter, as one of the major newspapers noted [1] that he was perhaps the least misadvertised product in history. What he advertised he was all about is exactly what people who voted for him got.If you want to know though why the President does what he does? Well perhaps part of it is that when you are in a war and when the enemy has the ability, as you state, ‘every right to express their opinions on conservative or liberal values, if those perceptions have a direct bearing on their biz’ and as such exert considerable influence and are able to manipulate the masses (as does traditional media which if you watch CNN or even NBC you are aware of) then it’s kosher, even on Yom Kippur, to fight back. You know the Israeli’s fought on Yom Kippur because, well, survival trumps the bible and god recognizes it. (Attempt at being profound).[1] WSJ or NYT; you know the only two that matter that everyone else takes their cues from. And WAPO sorry this isn’t your moment in the sun either you are an also ran not an IVY.

    3. Rick Mason

      There’s a workaround for Conservatives in Silicon Valley, you simply call yourself a Libertarian and people leave you alone. No one is the wiser, it’s like they don’t want to really know.

      1. jason wright


      2. Donna Brewington White


  11. PhilipSugar

    Here is the thorny question. I see both sides. I worked at Mitsubishi Corporation. I worked with in rank order Kato,Sato, Kikuchi, Yamate, and the COO Asada. Our admin was Keiko. So I was not the same. (neither was she) I was part of a program the CEO Makihara instituted to try and get diversity. I can see both sides. I loved all of those guys, but it was a bit strange.I also have a close friend who started a huge process automation company when Dupont decreed that they were not putting white males into the “fast track”. They all got together and left and Dupont is an absolute shell of itself. Koch is kicking their ass.Right now at our company in the technical area we are 40% “non-white” and only 10% female. Every race and religion (literally) is represented. Outside tech that goes to 50% female.So what do I think?It has to be a mix. You have to work to make sure that nobody feels that they are excluded. You have to try to get diversity. It does work. And lets not just say race or gender. Lets also include age.

    1. JLM

      .What business advantage does a diversity of religions convey to a company? Asks the guy who has been a Catholic, Episcopalian, Southern Baptist and read the Koran 4 times.Asking for a friend.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. PhilipSugar

        I don’t think really any. Just that you are accepted. AND you accept.I do not believe in freedom of speech at my company. No politics and no religion with the strict exception if we are just trying to understand each other, not argue.Funny story somebody last week was giving me a hard time about my Madras shorts (my wife bought and yes on a large man like me they are somewhat out of character, but I have not worn long pants since 1992 from a bet). One of our Indian employees said why do you call them that? A discussion started. Our Muslim employee from Bangladesh said his dad wore something (forget name) like a dress but a girl walking by asked why does he wear a dress?? He said his Dad never wore one again.We have a potluck every quarter.

        1. LE

          I don’t think really any. Just that you are accepted. AND you accept.Well we could also say that if people aren’t accepted then they end up going off in other directions and are forced to try harder.For example the Jews apparently (by some books at least) ‘invented Hollywood’ because they were not accepted into mainstream American business. So they ended up in many ways in a better place. Ditto for plenty of immigrant stories.Think my Dad, who even though he spoke english, could get a job working at a corporation when he came to this country? He couldn’t. So he got a job as a factory worker at a lighting company and the boss there recognized his talent and made him manager. Then he left to start his own company and do other things to make money. Ditto for his brother. And honestly a ton of his immigrant friends. In today’s world they would be accepted perhaps into a company and then stuck there forever with no opportunity (golden handcuffs).

        2. JLM

          .Haha, great answer. I can just see you in the Madras shorts. Well played.I do, actually, think religion has a positive impact, but it is not the flavor of the religion, but its binary presence – one is either spiritual/religious or not.I find the most troubling aspect of people saying, “I don’t believe in organized religion” not their aversion to “organization” but their lack of spirituality – which is not always true.Spirituality does impact our sense of fairness and anything which informs is usually good.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Michael Elling

            Maybe it’s just that their level of risk tolerance about what happens next or the unknown is lower. Maybe it’s their view that many Religious beliefs, acts and outcomes are hypocritical. Maybe they are more comfortable in their own skins and comfortable with all the diversity around them that they don’t need to belong to a particular sect. Maybe they are very inquisitive and don’t want to be bound by a single orthodoxy. That said they can indeed be very spiritual and are positive contributors to the network that is humanity.

          2. JLM

            .If one is raised in a family which embraces a religion, the first thing a young adult person deals with is whether to embrace or reject that religion when they are no longer under the supervision of the family. Many rejections are just benign neglect as the dorm or frat house isn’t conducive to church attendance and thus the connection wanes.In many of these instances, there is simply immaturity and that whatever was going on was force fed.At some later time, they may come back to a religion or to discover others. Many religions have “inquirer’s classes” which are a no risk opportunity to explore a religion. One must harness a bit of intellectual curiosity to go such a class. It requires a step outside the comfort zone which is often too long a journey.In the end, a religion is just a road map for one’s relationship with God. It can be very personal and unique. A church or religious institution can be like a library wherein the teachings of faith can be accessed as needed and a person can learn about themselves, others, and God.I find that a lot of people are truly just shallow and self-centered without a fully developed sense of spirituality. These are often the ones who most vociferously protest religion, but know nothing at all about it.The whole world is hypocritical, with no greater attribution to religion than any other facet.Some things are inward and not part of a network. In times of peril, I can assure you that the two immutable forces of the universe – God and your Momma – are on your lips.For me, the bottom line is I have always gotten way more from a bit of religious organization and orthodoxy than I have been asked to sacrifice, if I have sacrificed anything at all.It has provided a safe harbor for me to marshal my thoughts at difficult times and to use the power of prayer for my own benefit and that of others.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. ShanaC

            I’m not sold on this just based on pew data about religious switchingIf we include christian denominations, about 42% of all americans will switch religions from the one of their birth (this doesn’t include the revert rate)…We also know there are known factors promoting irreligiosity such as that one is secure in ones own life on a physical and more importantly, existential level.….(these models have predict religious riots in india, so don’t knock them… )Do we want a theistic religious world premised on people in trouble? It does’t seem like it is a good way to construct a god

        3. Vasudev Ram

          Wow, I lived in Madras for a while and had not heard of Madras shorts. Just googled, looks cool. I must get some.Also, in this article about the cloth they are made from:…there’s an interesting anecdote about David Ogilvy spun the bleeding of the color of the cloth from a bug into a feature.The article also says Madras cloth was peasant clothing in India and later when imported to the US, became a status symbol during the Depression (1929 one).

          1. PhilipSugar

            Yes she looked up that very article. It was a fun moment. Here is a strict young vegetarian asking an old senior meat eater, why do they call them that and why do they make fun of you? That is where I don’t believe in political correctness. I explained that they are out of character because they are somewhat considered feminine or flashy and certainly they don’t go with a hunting raincoat I wear, but that doesn’t bother me. The muslim employee explained his Dad used to wear a thawb until a very young girl asked her Mom why he was wearing a dress.Even funnier is that young Muslim employee who one might stereotype as a geek plays bass in a punk heavy metal band.My point is that we cannot have arguments about politics, religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation in the office. Not the place.But part of that is not decreeing we will hire X no matter of the qualification. Part of it is saying we will work to get more X qualified.Big, big difference.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            >But part of that is not decreeing we will hire X no matter of the qualification.>Part of it is saying we will work to get more X qualified.That’s a more positive approach.

          3. PhilipSugar

            And we actively do that.Look up http://www.zipcodewilmington.comLook up First State Lego League.I’m not debating if you have a mono culture that is good or won’t perpetuate itself.But just hiring a “token” doesn’t work either.To me it is embracing everyone’s differences. That to me means that the 6 foot six inch 350 lb man with a foot long red beard who brings in things like bacon wrapped pork tenderloin can sit there and have so much fun with a 5 foot 100 lb vegan who happens to be Indian (she also lived in Chennai)At 3pm Friday we take off and play games. Watching them interact actively makes me happy. People sense this. And it starts with being inquisitive.I believe there are two paths to diversity. One is to say I will hire X.The other is I will accept and understand everyone and I will reach out to areas where I am not the majority. And then it will happen naturally.Not as fast. That I will grant you.But more sustainable. That I am sure of.If you ever came to my office you would just “feel” it and people do.That is why when we hire somebody that is different, nobody thinks I was hired because of X, they think I have found my place, I better not screw this up.Yes I compete against Bank of America, Chase, Barclay’s. I win, and I have not lost people in literally decades.

          4. Vasudev Ram

            Interesting points. Checked out zipcodewilmington briefly, seems like a good initiative. Loosely related, as a kid, I had a pen friend who lived in Wilmington, Delaware (IIRC). My aunt (who lived in the US) introduced me to him and we had some nice correspondence (via air mail!) for some time. Later lost touch. His name was Duffy Noble. He used to tell me about his life in the US and I used to tell him about mine in India.Will check out the League. Thanks.

      2. ShanaC

        Why did you switch between christian denominations? Also, how theologically different are different protestants in practice (I’ve always wanted to know that beyond in theory…)

  12. Salt Shaker

    Sure, qualifications should always trump diversity, but all things being equal, wtf not. I walk around downtown Seattle, an alleged socially progressive city, and the only thing whiter is the milk in my fridge. I walk over towards the Amazon campus and it’s like the U.N. (I like the U.N. better).What I miss most about NYC is the diversity of the people. You get on the subway and it truly is a melting pot and a cultural experience.Exposure begets understanding and learning. There are walls in place all over, well beyond the $25B kind.

    1. Richard

      All true – But real diversity is also about living within economic diversity, not just importing skin color into your company. Its about creating a society where the rich and poor both live with with pride. When your homes are in NYC, VENICE, HAMPTONS, and UTAH, are we really waking the walk.

  13. sigmaalgebra

    The issue about diversity is tricky. I’ve seen several sides of the issue and didn’t like any of the sides. Fred’s statement is too simplistic for an accurate or effective look at reality.[Lots of highly politically incorrect details omitted.]But, I’ve had to conclude that, at least in recent years in the US, ethics, facts, reason, and rationality are close to irrelevant and tribal loyalties, e.g., in NYC to the propaganda of the NYT, are overwhelmingly important. And the more absurd the statements in the NYT, for the members of the tribe that go along the more devotion and loyalty to the tribe is demonstrated.I’ll be sure to vote in November.

  14. Pointsandfigures

    Diversity of opinion is big. That is lacking in the venture and startup community. There is also a huge lack of tolerance in the venture and startup community.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      This has been my observation, accentuated by the 2016 election when the environment became more openly hostile.Prominent people in the tech community that have long championed “diversity” and tolerance are quite vocal against those with differing political viewpoints.

  15. Michael Elling

    The moon has a lot to do with the fact that life exists on earth and has evolved. The earth exerts a bigger gravitational force, but the moon responds with one as well. This is an example of equilibrism. (Of course it’s falling apart constantly; something like 1.5 centimeters/year).If we implement asymmetric settlement structures, like gravitational forces, in our socio-economic and political networks, then geometric value captured by supernodes will balance more of the costs borne by smaller nodes. The net benefit will be much bigger for both supernodes and smaller nodes; greater network effects. By supporting diversity economically, the overall robustness, generativity and sustainability of the ecosystem is enhanced.Winner takes all attitude that imbues all of said socio-economic and political frameworks results in extremely distorted pareto and standard distributions, which are not sustainable anywhere in nature.

  16. Royce Haynes

    If you invited five of your friends to interview at your respective companies and each of them were hired, would it increase or decrease diversity in race or sex?The truth is that it almost always decreases diversity and that’s the problem. Because the tech culture is driven by referrals, the people who get referred in the beginning are white males and they typically refer five more white males and over time before the founders raise their head, that trend continues until the founders are questioned about their diversity.Henry is right in that diversity doesn’t happen on its own. One would think that they have the one token black, asian, hispanic, etc, they can refer that will eventually break the cycle but its difficult unless your friendships are diverse racially.So, think about who your first five friends you would refer to join a company and mix it up.

  17. Chimpwithcans

    The problem is that we are all tribal. You may not think so, but you are deep, deep down a tribal animal. What this means is that if a mandate or piece of legislation from up high forces hiring based on anything other than excellence, your company will start to use this as an excuse for tribal behavior. Tribal behavior is corrupt to the core and unlimited in its cronyism. I see it in Africa every day. Unfortunately colonialism gave Africa the perfect excuse to go down the cronyism path. Not sure how it got so high up on the US corporate agenda.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Already in this thread I declined to go into a lot of highly politically incorrect details about tribalism, but I’ll try for a relatively innocuous but pertinent response to your:Not sure how it got so high up on the US corporate agenda.There is an academic subject “organizational behavior” based on parts of sociology and social psychology. The subject is commonly taught in business schools and programs in public administration.Part of this subject is goal subordination, and, with a little insight and experience, maybe just the terminology is enough. But for more detail, the idea is that in organizations sometimes people “subordinate” the good and goals of the organization to their own goals.In practice, one source of goal subordination in organizational behavior is to have a team that has tribal loyalties. So, at least with a near term time horizon, the team members can find it more in their interest to act tribal and be loyal to the team than to be loyal to the organization.Here being good for the organization is not the point; loyalty to the team is what is crucial. So, technical competence becomes of secondary importance. In particular, then technical competence and work effectiveness by anyone outside the team becomes a threat to the team; the outsider can be attacked, up to and including violence and murder, by members of the team.So, how might some of this “team building” work? Well, uh, might establish some clear, solid criteria for membership in the team. Say, have some criteria that can’t be faked; want criteria that can’t be achieved by people who do not already meet the criteria; and want criteria that are relatively independent of competence. That is, the purpose of the criteria is “team building”, that is, team loyalty, that is, in the organization, goal subordination.So, look at the dynamics, say, one level higher: (1) Everyone who meets the criteria is automatically admitted to the team. (2) They remain in the team in good standing forever if they are strongly loyal and at least not really incompetent. (3) Everyone who does not meet the criteria are forever out of the team.So, then, the team comes together quite naturally — everyone with the criteria rushes to become a secure member of the team knowing that everyone else is forever out of the team and no competition.So, for the question:Not sure how it got so high up on the US corporate agenda.The answer is, some guy, maybe one high up in the organization, builds a team. He has some team criteria in mind and hires people who meet the criteria.Then in the whole organizational chart under this guy all the power is held by the team members. E.g., they can have off-site meetings with only the team members present. There can be people in the organizational chart not in the team, but they are essentially slave labor. Does that begin to answer the question?So, what might the criteria be?How about an Ivy League ugrad degree? Well, maybe, to some extent, at one time, but that’s small potatoes.How about being a poor guy, with good muscles, from Sicily, in NYC 60-100 or so years ago? Those criteria formed some teams.It’s easy to think of some more criteria that have some “team building” potential now.Think of any much stronger criteria?Exercise for the reader.I want to keep this post short, simple, easy to read, and not wildly politically incorrect. Actually I wrote out a politically incorrect version, but I didn’t post it.

  18. jason wright

    UHI – equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. that’s all i have to say, except that the diversity layer of the stack is driven by the economic protocol layer. fix the flaws of the protocol layer and the diversity layer will fix itself.

  19. Donna Brewington White

    You focus on what you must get done and everything else takes a back seat. That doesn’t work when it comes to hiring and diversity. You have to prioritize it and make it intentional. For some (many?) aspects of the business, it can be so hard to think of the long-term in the earlier years of survival mode. Hiring is such an essential aspect of survival and can be so very hard. Just getting people in the door often is a feat. The founder may ideologically value diversity but it can seem like a luxury more than a necessity.But I wonder if experience makes a difference? Do you see serial founders taking a more intentional approach toward diversity in the earlier stages of hiring?

  20. Nicole Yeary

    When we choose to be *not* intentional (passive) about any aspect of our life or business, the results will reer their ugly head— being intentional is often about being disciplined and thoughtful.Meaning that frst we have to care and we have to care an awful lot to have follow through to not take short cuts.For example, when you care about having a clean mouth you brush your teeth. And when we care about having a clean home we clean our home. When we care about having healthy relationships we have healthy relationships.This, when we care about having diverse teams we have have diverse teams. That’s how this works . Pretty straight forward really.Effort is between you and you.