In a recent Fire Chief video (http://firechief.com/video/merit-vs-diversity-20120314/?cid=nl_cp&YM_MID=1298621&YM_RIDfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Mary Rose Roberts addressed responses to her latest article “Turn Up the Heat” (http://firechief.com/leadership/ar/creating-fire-service-diversity-201202/index.html)
on increasing diversity in the Fire Service.
Unfortunately, this address (linked above) doesn't really deal with the core issue here - DOES diversity trump merit as a primary concern? I and many others, for instance, believe merit clearly trumps "diversity for diversity's sake." Ms. Roberts seems unable to even stake out the position that "diversity should trump merit at least in some cases," perhaps because it may be very difficult for her to articulate exactly why. In NYC, as for example, there are numerous agencies that are much more racially imbalanced than is the FDNY. While the FDNY's uniformed force is appx 90% white (appx 2.6X their #s in NYC's population), the NYC Corrections Dept is over 65% non-Latino black (appx 2.9X their numbers in NYC's population)...and yet "diversity crusaders” HAVEN'T appeared to take much issue with that even more glaring imbalance...at least not YET. Mr. Richard Levy’s remarks in a recent interview (http://k004.kiwi6.com/hotlink/6412v367oa/fdny_podcast_0001.wma) seem to indicate that as an attorney he is VERY MUCH interested in addressing precisely such disparities....AND Merit Matters disagrees! We feel people gravitate to the jobs they have an interest and aptitude for and that such disparities are merely “snapshots” in time, subject to change given a whole range of social, cultural and economic factors, at any given time.
Considering that non-Latino blacks comprise just 23% of NYC’s population and 36% of its Municipal workforce, and that until 2007’s exam were historically LESS than 10% of the applicants for the FDNY, there appears to be a historic lack of interest in the Fire Service among that group. That appears to be merely a matter of personal choice, that is subject to change at any time. That same group is also currently woefully UNDER-represented among America’s Volunteer Fire Departments and they are also significantly under-represented among organ donors, as well.
IF actual “diversity” was the goal here, then those who espouse it would be fighting every bit as vehemently to make sure that agencies that are overwhelmingly non-Latino black would be properly “diversified” as well, and they’re not. Fact is, non-Latino blacks are the most over-represented group in both the NYC Municipal workforce (the ONLY ethnicity over-represented by more than 10% of their numbers in NYC’s population) AND they are greatly over-represented in the federal workforce, as well.
I’m sure we all consider as a given that “Free people are NOT equal,” they’re not equal in interests, nor in aptitudes. We believe that people SHOULD BE able to choose for themselves which jobs and in which fields they have an interest in and would like to work in. AND if diversity crusaders were truly serious about their “mission,” they’d have begun their crusade by looking to address the OVER-representation of the group that is most OVER-represented in government employment – non-Latino blacks. The fact that they haven’t speaks volumes about the real focus of their “mission.”