Thursday, February 04, 2016

Infinity and Diamond Meritocracy

I once asked someone why the company they worked at was still so white, and so male. He was a white male. I am a white male. The new South Africa has past it's 21st birthday and should be finding it's way in the work world after all. In Actuarial terms, 21 is slap bang in the middle of the accident hump which occurs (mainly in males) from age 18-30 where you learn to drink and drive, and drink, and drive. You have to be careful.

The answer he gave me reminded me of lessons in infinity. Between any two points on a line, there are an infinite number of other points. Between any two excuses, there are an infinite number of excuses.

Faced with two candidates of equal calibre, the goal of transformation meant that the candidate who wasn't white would get the job. But*... If the white candidate was better, they would get the job because the company believed in Meritocracy. If the other candidate was better, there was an issue. These candidates are so attractive (Black Diamonds) that they tend to get poached. A really good candidate will likely move on. So the white dude would get the job. The thick plottens.

No two points are ever exactly next to each other. No two candidates are ever exactly the same. There is always wiggle room. Followed to its conclusion, Diamond Meritocracy will maintain the status quo of hiring people just like you. After two decades of such a situation, you should start feeling very queasy if you look around a table and the faces looking back reflect this situation.

No women on the board. Unfair work practices. A company culture you don't like.  At some point, it requires employees to simply get up and walk away. Go work somewhere else. Go do something else.

Meritocracy/Privilege = 1. Merit comes through investment. Merit comes through opportunity. Merit is cultivated.

*The Rule of I'm not X but clearly applies.
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