The Downside of Diversity Quotas

There’s a row going on in South Africa between a black former rugby player, Ashwin Willemse, and two white former players Nick Mallett and Naas Botha. The video in the link shows Willemse objecting strongly to suggestions from the other two that he was a “quota player” during a post-match discussion on the South African Supersports channel. He then walks off the stage, saying he refuses to be criticised by people who played in the apartheid era. There was obviously a build-up to this which the public hasn’t yet seen, and without knowing what’s been said by whom it’s difficult to say if Willemse is overreacting or not.

Naturally, this being the modern South Africa, people have leaped in on both sides even if they couldn’t have named a single Springbok player before last weekend. Given this is all happening 23 years after Nelson Mandela famously handed the Webb Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar while wearing the Springbok jersey, it’s rather depressing. Fans and pundits always have idiots among them, but I’d have hoped former players would have the sense not to bring race into any discussion on South African rugby, especially on television.

However, my main point is that this is a good demonstration of how damaging diversity quotas are. I don’t know if Ashwin Willemse was selected to the Springboks on merit (I never saw him play) but the fact that quotas for black players existed leaves the door wide open for people to accuse him of being a quota player. And no matter how good the player is, there will always be some who think they were only picked because they were black. I’m sure there are people out there insane enough to think Bryan Habana was only picked because he was black; the problem with quotas is nobody knows for sure who is there on merit and who is there to make up numbers, and it hands ammunition to the group’s enemies. As I said in this post:

The real losers from affirmative action policies aimed at helping minorities is not people who fall outside the designated groups but genuinely competent minorities who not only have to sit alongside less-capable colleagues of the same sex or skin colour, but now have their own competencies called into question.

As Ashwin Willemse is finding out, this question mark can hang over their heads for a long time indeed. I suspect we’re going to have a lot of highly capable women in the corporate world retiring in frustration after never having quite convinced everyone they were there on merit. This is what happens when you select some who aren’t.

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11 thoughts on “The Downside of Diversity Quotas

  1. I meet a lot of high-flying women execs & pros (business, laddies, business pros).

    You know which are the good ones. Those that believe in merit and don’t have an axe to grind. You can tell almost immediately. You also realise that this topic is up for discussion and they do NOT believe in quotas for the same reasons I (and Thomas Sowell, I like to swim in august company) don’t.

    Many in RRHH (and there are many in that department so-beloved of the honourable readers of this blog) are often not the good ones. They are on a mission.

  2. “However, my main point is that this is a good demonstration of how damaging diversity quotas are.”

    Sure, but never forget, this is their purpose.

  3. If Willemse was part of a team which had more than the quota number he’d have a point. If he was in a team with just the right humber, he doesn’t.

    The wonder is that they got any black players at all, rugby being an Afrikaans thing back in the day.

  4. Ten ads on this post. One floating in bottom of the viewport obscuring content.

    10. Really?

  5. 10. Really?

    Yeah, I know, they’re all over the place. Apparently the system takes about a month to optimise, figuring out where to put ads for each user, and until then it’s going to be a bit of a mess. I’m sorry about that, but I’m glad you’ve given me your feedback: if they’re still pissing people off in a few weeks, I’ll reconfigure it.

  6. Out of interest what kind of revenue do the ads generate Tim?

    At the moment, in the region of $2-4 per day, so around $90 per month. Which more than covers the hosting and other stuff.

  7. Okay cheers, maybe run a share tipping thread as well that would bring in a decent whack as well.

  8. The random placement of the ads is what throws some of us off. It really breaks the stream of the writing.

  9. Maybe we should have a monthly whip around for the driver?

    The other issue Tim is all that good work you done on branding is gone now, I’m sure you know about the benefits of white space to the reader.

    The only upside is that polyamory dating site that pops up.

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