Saturday, April 21, 2012

Diversity without preferences

Most people oppose racial preferences in hiring.  For example, a 2001 poll sponsored by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University asked people for their reaction to the statement "Because of past discrimination, qualified African Americans should receive preference over equally qualified whites in such matters as getting jobs":  9% strongly agreed, 12% agreed, while 21% disagreed and 58% strongly disagreed.  However, the same survey asked for reactions to the statement,
"Employers should be required by law to maintain a certain level of diversity in the workplace," and got a very different response:  32% strongly agreed, 24%, 16% disagreed, and 28% strongly disagreed.   Logically, it seems like a requirement to maintain diversity means not just preferences, but quotas, which are even less popular.  But apparently people didn't see a contradiction:  the diversity question was asked just before the preference question (with only one intervening item), so people didn't have time to forget their answers. 

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