[Disparate Impact Part I can be found here.]
As an accountant at Winter Shoe Company in Akron, Ohio, and have been for a long time. As long as you've been there, only People Like You—European-descended folks, that is—have worked there.
One day, for reasons unknowable, a wave of Chinese-Americans starts to flood into lovely Akron. Descendants of the railroad builders, let's say. California exiles, driven off by sky-high taxes. They've come to Akron, and they want to work at Winter Shoe Company too.
Turns out their résumés are stellar and they score brilliantly on the job aptitude tests. Better than you even. Mr. Winter couldn't be happier. He hires, and hires, and hires them, until in almost any office in the company you wander into, an Asian face is staring back at you.
And productivity soars. Never has Winter Shoes sold so much, so fast, at such high quality. Old Mr. Winter is over the moon. The shareholders are popping champagne.
Euro-descended Akronites? They're livid. They organize. They picket. They boycott.
City Hall listens.
Local politicians let Old Winter know, in no uncertain terms, that it would be a pity to have to change the zoning laws in such a way that would force him to shut his doors….that is, of course, unless he hires some more Euros. Immediately.
Winter, shaking in his boots, agrees. In come the Quotas. For each Asian-American hired, a certain number of Euro-Americans must be also. Period. Even if there are numerous Chinese more qualified for the job. Even if there are no Europeans truly qualified for the job. Akron is still 70% Euro-descended, after all, so the company should be 70% European. It's just as simple as that.
Sorry, Asians, says Akron, but you see, Winter's job aptitude tests are having a... a 'disparate impact,' as it were, on Euros, and though we're not sure why they're not up to your level (bad nutrition maybe? lack of studying?), in any case, if we just give them a little 'boost,' they'll soon be punching in your weight class. No doubt about it.
This is just a temporary measure, to level the playing field. Until they catch up with you. Smarts-wise.
It's bound to happen sooner or later.
Productivity falls a bit after the Chinese are forced out, profits dip, and the company is forced to lay off some folks. Lower profits : Old Winter grumbles. Lost jobs : The Asians grumble. But be patient, they're told, fighting injustice has a price, after all. And in any case, with the millions the city is pouring into better schools and health care for the Europeans, they're bound to perform at the Chinese's level.
Sooner or later.
Not happy, but patient, the Asians wait.
It's a long wait. But maybe the folks of Akron, Ohio would have been wise to take a page out of boxing's book.
Think on it:
'Weight classes' in professional boxing: OK.
'IQ classes' in companies (or schools): Not OK?
Really, 'Featherweight,' 'Middleweight,'…it's all based on how big Nature made you, no?
Nature? Are you kidding? I've put in years of weight training, and conditioning, and vitamin supplements, and even some otherstuff too...
Doesn't matter. All the weightlifting and steroids in the world won't turn Willie Pep into Nikolai Valuev. Not going to happen.
And then 'Smart,' 'Very smart,' 'Genius,'…it's all based on how bright Nature made you, no?
Perhaps, but I have good nutrition and top quality health care, plus I've studied a lot, and my loving family raised me with good values, and…
Doesn't matter. You can't design what goes on inside a TV set with a Down Syndrome sufferer's brain. No matter how well he eats or how much he studies. Not going to happen.
Featherweight / Lightweight / Middleweight / Heavyweight. = Everyone gets to play.
All thrown in the ring together. = Only one gets to play.
And we already know who that is.
Low / Average / Bright / Very bright. = Everyone gets a job (or into college).
All thrown in the ring together. = Only one gets a job (or into college).
Do we already know who that is?
Stay tuned for Part III...