Project Include is Yet Another Reason to Short Sell Tech Stocks

Compare these pictures. Three more years of economic non-recovery have allowed for more apple products and beverages, but non profits can’t afford a food stylist or cleaning service.

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(Image via The Last Psychiatrist)

These images could both be titlted “An Isometric Study of Women Pretending to Work at Conference Table…with snacks.”  The difference is Sandberg is the subject in the latter, while “tech” is the subject in the former (notice the fascination with whatever is on the screen in the first image.)  Again, Sandberg’s picture could be called “Women admire and listen to Sandberg” while the former could be called “Women love technology and each other.”  And just for fun – here are more happy multicultural people enjoying bounty.  (The subject of the third image is religious ecstasy.)

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Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious pamphlet

TLP’s 2013 essay concluded among other things that the popularity of Sandberg was explained by the aspirational nature of women wanting something desirable (a seat at the table) instead of simply wanting more money.  You only knew about Sadberg so that labor costs can go down.

From Fortune Magazine:

Female Tech Leaders Create New Group To Fix Silicon Valley’s Diversity Problem

The initiative aims to provide meanings(sic) results, not just empty talk about diversity.

Silicon Valley executives have talked a lot of about the lack of diversity in their ranks. But as the annual workplace demographic reports from their companies show, not much is changing.

So a group of prominent women in the tech industry has taken matters into their own hand, and on Tuesday unveiled a new initiative called Project Include. The project’s aim is to collect and share data to help increase diversity among tech company employees as a way to encourage change. (emphasis mine)

Ellen Pao (who lost a discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins before being ridden-outta-reddit-on-a-rail) and Erika Baker (who published Google salaries) along with a gaggle of other less notorious SJW’s have decided to increase their harassment of tech companies.

I infer their plan includes advancing diversity hiring agendas through publishing statistics on employment data from private companies which I claim is a vehicle to generate popular resentment and consumer activism against the firms from those who are neither shareholders, VC’s nor customers.  (They do however have twitter accounts.)

They are doing this on their own time, of course, because their target demographic is unwilling to pay for it – which means they don’t want it – which means it isn’t important to them – which means they don’t have a diversity problem.  So the headline of the key assumption of the article should be changed to notorious activists still have a problem with silicon valley.   Is it any wonder they can’t sell this?

Any consumer of course has the right to vote with their wallet, and the same extends to the investor community.  However, spending money on products that aren’t worth it used to only happen on public radio pledge drives and investing in unprofitable businesses used to happen on Sunday mornings in a collection plate.  You can confuse an economy with a religion more easily than you think.

    Pao et. al.’s misunderstanding (read: motivated distortion) of business is underscored by their rhetorical question on the front page of projectinclude.org:  “Ultimately, does your company give everyone a fair shot at success?”

I hope the answer is a resounding “NO!”  Companies are not in the business of giving people shots at success.  They are in the business of paying people for their help.  Thanks to affirmative action and movements like Project Include, they are also now in the business of using employee presumptive disadvantaged status as a human shield between the legal system and identitarian consumerism.  In this sense at least the chickens are coming home to roost since marketing has incubated inchoate niche identities in the first place.

So I would submit that the basic hiring scenario is that in which candidates try to convey their ability to help based on their skills and attitude while a firm assesses them for the same.

image via reddit

Chairman Pao, in her anti-capitalist assumptions, believes rightly that this basic scenarios is skewed and people are often indeed biased by a number of factors.  However she does not understand what bias is and as a result overestimates its impact.

In a Derridian sense, bias is part of a dyad of preference/bias.  Emotions are always a trajectory.  Bias is the trace of preference.  A preference for A entails a bias against B.  Toward is away – and as Sartre noted every act of loyalty entails one of disloyalty (Consumerism is a Humanism, after all).  The degree to which bias is unconscious correlates to the degree to which preferences are well integrated by the ego (i.e. uncolored by shame and resentment, attributed to self rather than other via admiration and identification).

She is likely right that white men demonstrate a preference for free association (which I must point out is after all a protected American right) with other white men based on factors such as cultural similarity.  However, the full picture is not grasped without appreciating the corollary bias of all identitarian groups – a bias which is unacknowledged by Pao, et. al. (See the initial gender split on Pao’s jury trial, for instance).

Where Pao and other diversity trumpeters miss the mark is by assuming that bias/preference is so much stronger than other preferences – such as the desire to make money – so as to deserve inordinate attention.  

Pao also does not understand what culture is.  Her cohort expounds on the importance of envisioning, planning, implementing and controlling a company culture.  This cultural revolution of course is an Orwellian inversion.  Culture is what an organization has organically.  Cultural programs are designed to suppress reality.  To channel Derrida again, culture is exclusive, always to be defined in part by that which does not fit in, and expert cultures are no exception.  Pao has decided that her culture, multiculturalism, is the only acceptable culture (with the probable exception for gentrification and cultural appropriation).  Her culture’s primary definitive characteristic is their anathema toward any form of white male homogeneity.  Her culture is defined in part by opposition to white male culture.

Here consider the work of Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger) defining the spectrum of the sacred, the clean and the unclean.  Victimary minorities, of course, are sacred (Girard).  White men, vessels for projected uncleanness qua unconscious bias (racism/sexism) cannot be trusted to make decisions because they don’t like you as much as you’d like them to.  The high priestesses of diversity must first cleanse the temple to have a perfectly represented spectrum of holy-ones present.  Only then can it be pronounced clean.

 

Jehovah's Witness Watchtower magazine

For the absurdity of this position to be fully appreciated consider Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror where she argues for abjection as a pre-verbal response to the breakdown of threatened meaning (Read:  Bias ain’t goin’ nowhere, never, no-how).  I would also offer Silvin Tomkin’s and later affect theorists research that aversion is part of us and is never going away.  It can only be adjusted towards new targets.  Planned company cultures like planned national cultures and planned national economies cannot possibly succeed without enormous repression.   Said differently:  You can make your theory fit reality or try to make reality fit your theory.

Pao and Project Include’s most egregiously self defeating anti-woman position is revealed in her opposition to competition.  At Reddit, she instituted a policy prohibiting negotiation. Ellen Pao believes women are just as good as men, except for the fact that they can’t compete.  

Competition can’t be eliminated because people want to compete.  They want to win, part of which means beating other people.  Erika Baker’s salary disclosure fiasco had it not been a failure would have made people miserable, lead to pay compression, and increased the quit rate.

Tech stocks are a bubble about to pop and Project Include is a needle.  Don’t listen to them:  Everything about diversity is awful except the food.  If you have invested in a company which thinks you should hire based on any criteria but the ad-hoc mix of best qualifications and lowest negotiated salary, sell them short while you can.  After the worst year in history for tech, it’s reassuring to remember Cyril Northcote Parkinson’s observation that London banks built the biggest and most beautiful lobbies only just before precipitous decline.  Similarly I predict an increased focus on issues of marginal concern to reach its zenith just before the unicorns go to zero. #callingthetechbubble

 

 

The obvious rejoinder to my position is that my antipathy for diversity hiring initiatives is attributable to my biases.  I would offer that it is a reflection of my preferences – more important than biases – which include my values and my own desire to win at competition, weariness with victimary harassment, and admiration of excellence.

A secondary rebuttal is that I’m worried about losing my priviledged position, being threatened by these programs.  My rejoinder here would be that I think one can rightly fear losing the right to pursue what they want – the right to compete, out work, out negotiate and out politic others who want the same thing.

The victimary perspective mobilized to justify unilateral diversity is a toxic con. The first and best thing anyone who wants more out of life should always be told is to work harder and be more disciplined.  With this veil stripped away we see a transparent culture war among interest groups for influence and prestige in society through its institutions.  There is nothing wrong with this desire.  It is quite ordinary and admirable.  However, the ethical way to get something you want from someone else who has it is to offer them something of value for it.  

The sooner we admit our situation is one of disparate interest groups instead of entitled victims the sooner we can turn a covert disingenuous and undignified conflict into a direct negotiation about how we want society to function.  We can exchange things besides blame and resentment.

This is not simply a turning of the tables like the androsphere’s tale of 21st century male victimhood.  I challenge everyone at the negotiating table to act with the dignity of not claiming special handicaps and entitlements.  You shouldn’t want them unless you need them, and to need them is different than to be owed them.  To think otherwise is to espouse the ethics of a looser.

Unless, of course, you agree with Ellen Pao who thinks women can’t negotiate.  I think you can do better than that.