Larry Boyer: This is a great question for Quora. Yes, this question is where the diversity calculus gets more subjective and issues of affirmative action come into play. The conventional wisdom among most “diversity experts” is that the number/percentage should reflect the population or relative labor force demographic — or something close to it. Questions about “goals and timetables” are murky. I think it’s important to note that in the U.S. private sector quotas are illegal under federal civil rights law. The rare exception is if they are court enforced as a remedy for a longtime “pattern and practice” of systemic discrimination. Moreover, affirmative action — which detractors call “racial preferences” — is strictly voluntary for employers.
That’s my non-lawyer understanding from working closely with civil rights and labor lawyers at the EEOC for many years. Lastly, I would note the Supreme Court has been incrementally chipping away at affirmative action policies over the past three decades. I recall the mantra of “mend it, don’t end it” when I worked for President Bill Clinton.
It will be interesting to see how the current Supreme Court rules on so-called “reverse discrimination” cases, which appear to be more prevalent against colleges and universities.
Thanks again, Larry, for taking the time to share your exemplary feedback — for which I’m always most grateful.