Diversification is not the goal

Riding on FaceBook’s IPO news frenzy, CalSTRS, California’s Teacher’s Pension Fund, asked the company to add a woman to the board. “We are disappointed that the Facebook board will not have any women members,” CalSTRS corporate governance director Anne Sheehan wrote in a letter to Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday. “We believe that investors and the company would benefit from a larger, more diverse board.” (As reported by MercuryNews.com.)

Both parts of her statement are correct and agreeable, but the combined is illogical and nonsensical. You can substitute the word “women” with a plethora of demographic classifiers and the argument is equally forceful. The board has no, say, Asian, black, Latino, Indians, medical doctors, senior citizens, gay or lesbian (to my knowledge). It is strange for CalSTRS, an organization not directly associated with female gender, to advocate for women. Who are to advocate for other demographic groups?

American businesses are the purest, they pursue monetary successes either at personal or corporate level, or preferably both. The competition is fierce and non-relenting. Every companies is out to squash their competitors or trying to survive. This translates to personal level. Every CEO, executives, managers, individual contributors all work so hard to get ahead or stay alive. They will try every tricks on the book, as long as it works.

Diversification itself is not the goal. There are business goals: revenue, profitability, stock prices, market share, personal gains, etc. If diversification helps (and it usually does), then businessmen will adopt. Anne Sheehan, representing shareholders, should have advocated means to boost stock prices. If adding a woman to the board will actually hurt the shareholder’s value, why would Facebook do that?

The best way for woman to become equal in corporate world is for them to beat their male counter-parts on business level. This is also true for Asian, black, Latino, Indians, or whatever you are.

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