There is a common belief among those who lean left or consider themselves progressive, that there is a lack of diversity in various positions of power in our society. It is easy to see this as an issue as it is so obvious, checking the Forbes rich list and you will see a collection of mostly white males. Looking at the heads of many of the fortune 500 companies and you will see the same demographic. This observation of course is very superficial, it is true that these people look the same, but they also think the same way, which I would argue is much more important.
Be it their privilege as white males, or their life experiences, these people have grown to see themselves as powerful, and thus have moved through the ranks of the various institutions they can be found in. The skills they possess and how they were acquired is irrelevant, but nonetheless determine their ability to float to the top. Certainly their race and gender may have helped them, but is that the cause or simply a correlation.
When people seek to increase diversity they suggest that things will be better or at least different if there were more women or people of colour in positions of power, they criticize the systems for being white male dominated. Ironically, the people who make these arguments believe that because someone looks different they will by necessity have different views.
However, if a woman or person of colour is to hold a similar position, they will need to hold the same values and opinions as the currently leading group. The basics of business don’t change, profits and profit margins determine the success of any business. Being able to fit in with the people already in power requires having the same views as them.
This is to say, if we banished sexism and racism the people who floated to the top could look different, but they will all have the same ideology. Which is to say, if there is more diversity in appearance, institutions will continue to be the same. Processes and procedures will not change, neither will values or morality, things will be the same, with the exception of the way some of the people look.
A very simple example is the case of the current american president, his whole campaign revolved around the idea of change. But if you look at the facts, the only real difference is the colour of his skin and a slight adjustment for his political affiliations. The cause is that positions of power are determined by the systems they are found in. The president’s role and abilities are defined by the position he holds and his similarity to the people who held the position before him. The same could be said if a woman were to take his place next year, she too would be limited by the constraints of the system and the fact that her constitution is the same as any of the white males who have held the position before her.
If we are to be honest we can look at this a little further, a likely presidential candidate in the US will have grown up in an upper middle class family. They will likely have attended an elite university, which will mean that they were surrounded by a certain type of people. They will grow up around these people who will influence their way of seeing the world, regardless of their gender or the colour of their skin.
It takes a certain type of person to be able to succeed at any type of leadership. We should not look at appearances, that is missing the point, what we should look at is ideas. If we do then we will see that ideas are a greater connector than the colour of someone’s skin or the shape of their genitals. If we really only want diversity in appearance, than what we really want is a bunch of people who think the same way.