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Google, Apple Call Workers' Race & Gender Trade Secrets 554

Posted by kdawson
from the no-using-face-recognition dept.
theodp writes "The Mercury News reports that Google, whose stated mission is to make the world's information universally accessible, says the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that cannot be released. So do Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, and Applied Materials. The five companies waged a successful 18-month FOIA battle with the Merc, convincing federal regulators who collect the data that its release would cause 'commercial harm' by potentially revealing the companies' business strategy to competitors. Law professor John Sims called the objections — the details of which the Dept. of Labor declined to share — 'absurd.' Many industry peers see the issue differently — Intel, Cisco, eBay, AMD, Sanmina, and Sun agreed to allow the DOL to provide the requested info. 'There's nothing to hide, in our view,' said a spokesman for Intel. Some observers note it's not the first time Google has declined to put a number on its vaunted diversity — in earlier Congressional testimony, Google's top HR exec dodged the question of how many African-American employees the company had."
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Google, Apple Call Workers' Race & Gender Trade Secrets

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  • I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jra (5600) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:26AM (#31164738)

    the EEOC and Congress will see it differently.

    Wonder what *else* Congress will ask while they've got them on the stand...

    • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheKidWho (705796) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:33AM (#31164798)

      Google just doesn't want to be subjected to draconian and racist equal opportunity laws or quotas.

      I'm pretty sure they are hiring people based on merit and technical ability, not race or color.

      • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:37AM (#31164840)
        In Soviet Russia they kept track of how many Jews people were hiring, just to make sure they stayed in line. Here they're trying to keep tabs on the Blacks. Good intentions be damned, this just doesn't smell good.
      • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:55AM (#31164984) Homepage

        They probably want to pick the most qualified worker rather than the most politically correct one. If they end up with an entire workforce full of white employees, perhaps an investigation should be done as to why there are no other qualified candidates in the area.

        • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Narcocide (102829) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:11AM (#31165150) Homepage

          If I had mod points I would mod you up. Equal opportunity is flawed because it is based on a flawed assumption of equal aptitude. If you think about it just a little you'll realize how applying this at a business level instead of immediately at kindergarten level is doomed to do more harm than good.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ihmhi (1206036)

            "Equal opportunity" in education (grants/scholarships/financial aid) is not necessarily flawed.

            "Equal opportunity" in the workplace irrespective of the requirements is flawed. I shouldn't have to hire a less-qualified person of one particular ethnicity over a more-qualified white person because I have to fill a quota.

            The Wayans Bros. did a brilliant episode on this subject where Shawn Wayans was hired at a prestigious company. Despite his qualifications in the field, all he did was sit at a desk all day to

          • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:03AM (#31165580) Journal

            No, "equal opportunity" in employment refers to the fact that it is illegal to discriminate against people of certain sex, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. It does not say that you should hire anybody other than your best applicant.

            You are probably mixing it up with "affirmative action", which seeks to address historical injustice by bending over backwards for the wronged groups. In this case, because simply freeing the African American slaves still left their descendants at a severe disadvantage in the open market, society decides to give them preferential treatment.

            All I'm going to say is that it's quite common for the successful to think that they did it all themselves, without thinking too much about whether they'd be where they are if they were born in a different color or socio-economic background.

          • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Informative)

            by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @04:32AM (#31166388)

            If I had mod points I would mod you up. Equal opportunity is flawed because it is based on a flawed assumption of equal aptitude.

            No, your understanding of equal opportunity is flawed.

            Equal opportunity is not "you must hire x percentage of blacks", equal opportunity is "you may not refuse employment on the basis an employee is black". It's a very big difference.

            Equal opportunity is never used pro-actively, only defensively. Otherwise it becomes racism whether used to enforce a certain number of minority workers or to limit the number of minority workers. So a convince store owner is not obliged to hire an Asian man but may not refuse employment on the basis that the man is Asian.

            Corporations and government departments in Australia may maintain ethnic diversity policies (hiring X number of aborigines) for their own reasons (PR, accounting and so forth) but in no place is this mandated by law. Saying "we don't hire abbo's" is however.

            • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:4, Interesting)

              by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @06:38AM (#31167054) Homepage

              Great post, technically correct, but totally ignoring the elephant in the room.

              Yes, "equal opportunity" is what you say. "Affirmative action", however, is exactly what you say "equal opportunity" is not.

              Both are law. So your whole diatribe basically makes one point : "you're misidentifying the law you're complaining about". Of course, you're acting as if this little mistake invalidates the whole argument.

              That's just not how you present your argument : it's a direct attack against complaining about the obvious stupidity of this law. In other words, you agree with affirmative action, with racist quotas (oh sorry I meant "racial" quotas, which means the same thing), and you somehow feel the need to attack anyone disagreeing with you with tiny little details.

              Your argument is as idiotic as saying "watr" isn't wet, due to misspelling.

              • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Informative)

                by samkass (174571) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @10:23AM (#31168622) Homepage Journal

                Yes, "equal opportunity" is what you say. "Affirmative action", however, is exactly what you say "equal opportunity" is not.

                I'm not sure what country you're from or which one you're talking about, but here in the United States that's not true. In the US Affirmative Action cannot place quotas, and several court cases including the Supreme Court have upheld that strict racial quotas of any sort are unconstitutional (Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger). Colleges, for example, are allowed to consider race as a means to an end such as "diversity", but they are not allowed to set any quotas or use race-based admission as a redress for historical racism. Although the "right wing" in our country likes to raise affirmative action as a boogie-man, things don't actually operate that way in this country.

            • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

              by stdarg (456557) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @10:45AM (#31168942)

              Equal opportunity is not "you must hire x percentage of blacks", equal opportunity is "you may not refuse employment on the basis an employee is black". It's a very big difference.

              I'm sure you're right but look at this bit from the EEOC manual on racial discrimination [eeoc.gov]:

              EXAMPLE 4
              RACIAL STEREOTYPING OR BIAS

              Charles, an African American, files a charge alleging that the employer, a retailer, used an interview to discriminate against him in favor of a less experienced White applicant. During the EEOC investigator’s discussion with the hiring manager, she notices that the hiring manager’s statements are peppered with comments such as “we were looking for a clean cut image,” and “this is a sophisticated upscale location . . . I have to make sure the people I hire have, you know, the ‘soft-skills’ we need.” Knowing that these statements could be reflective of racial stereotyping and bias,(39) the investigator evaluates the employer’s decisionmaking very carefully. The investigator interviews Charles’s most recent employer, who tells the investigator that “customers just loved working with Charles . . . he was one of our most effective and motivated employees.” The investigator also interviews the person hired and finds no basis for believing her “soft skills,” or her “image,” were any better than Charles’s. In addition, the investigator notices that, like the person hired over Charles, the rest of the staff also is White even though the qualified labor market is significantly more diverse. The investigator concludes that the employer rejected Charles based on racial stereotyping or bias.

              The racial makeup of employees compared to the racial makeup of the applicant pool is definitely a factor, though not the only factor. In other words, if you don't have x percentage of blacks, that's a strike against you and adds weight to any claim of discrimination against blacks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JumperCable (673155)

          Perhaps their numbers are skewed towards asians & indians. Who knows.

          • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ishobo (160209) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:28AM (#31165770)

            Indians are Asian. I think you mean Orientals and Indians.

        • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Interesting)

          by foo fighter (151863) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:00AM (#31165566) Homepage

          They probably want to pick the most inexpensive worker rather than the most politically correct one. If they end up with an entire workforce full of H1B employees, perhaps an investigation should be done as to why there are no other qualified candidates in the area.

          FTFY

          Watching people get excited about and defend Google gives me terrible nostalgia of Microsoft's history.

        • Re:I'm pretty sure (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:12AM (#31165656)

          Google themselves go out of their way [google.com] to claim how diverse their workforce is, though, and their PR shots often show a carefully selected diverse set of employees. If they really wanted to argue, "we pick the most qualified regardless of who that turns out to be", they could, but they're instead trying to argue that they have an exceedingly diverse workforce, and use that for both recruiting and general PR purposes. Yet, they don't want to give actual statistics on that, which makes one suspect they're lying.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jack2000 (1178961)
        Nothing good can come out of this, "equal opportunity laws" encourage slack and forced hires.
      • What? "Google doesn't want to be subject to inconvenient laws" is not an excuse! Whether or not you think the laws are fair, it is certainly not acceptable to call the numbers trade secrets that could potentially reveal the companies' business strategy to competitors.

        This is basically a slap in Congress's face. Known in the biz as "a stupid move."

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by base3 (539820) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:28AM (#31164750)
    Our numbers don't look very good. After all, didn't a Google executive pretty much tell us that if we've nothing to hide we've nothing to fear?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gadget_Guy (627405) *

      After all, didn't a Google executive pretty much tell us that if we've nothing to hide we've nothing to fear

      Absolutely. If only Google had said that the reason it didn't want the data released was to protect the privacy of their staff. Then they might have managed to claw back some street cred.

      My theory is that in an effort to reduce workplace distractions, the majority of their staff have no sexual organs at all. Google simply wants to protect them from embarrassment, even though the staff have literally have nothing to hide!

    • by bradley13 (1118935) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @04:35AM (#31166402) Homepage

      I think it is much more likely that they want to just avoid a tangle with the regulatory agencies.

      Google is now big enough that they will be asked "why don't you have exactly 0.03274% female black jewish mentally handicapped" employees, to reflect the population?

      Hiring should be blind to race, gender, etc. - that is true equality of opportunity. The agencies don't see it that way - they play a numbers game, and it's worth a lot of effort to avoid this discussion, or at least to avoid having the discussion in public.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by scamper_22 (1073470)

        There are some big problems with affirmative action.

        I'm a minority who stutters... believe when I say... I have not fulfilled my potential.
        Yet, affirmative action tries to cast far too wide a net. What it normally does is help people who don't any help.

        Do you think Google is going to increase its 'African American' percentage by hiring the kid from the inner city? Or do you think they will hire a middle/upper class african american who really doesn't need any help?

        It also has what I would call the 'misse

    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rennt (582550) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @05:14AM (#31166600)
      Nope, he said if you've got something to hide, don't do it on the internet. The difference is subtle but huge. Reasonable advice really, though it shouldn't be news to anybody with half a brain.
  • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:29AM (#31164762) Journal

    Nothing good (from the perspective of the companies involved) could come from the release of the data. Only harm would be likely to result. If the data didn't show anything the Mercury-News could capitalize on for a story about those evil racist sexist tech firms, nothing at all would come of it; that's the best case scenario.

    • If nothing came of it, that would be a defacto admission on the part of the Mercury-News that Google is within the norm for hiring diversity. It wouldn't be front page news, but it would be something that Google could point to if the question ever comes up again. By clamming up, Google is only inviting speculation. By citing an absurd reason like trade secrets, they are inviting skepticism.

  • by base3 (539820) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:32AM (#31164782)
    It's the H1Bs.
    • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:38AM (#31164844) Homepage

      It's the H1Bs.

      Someone please mod this up! A friend of mine works at Apple, and all her co-workers who are SW developers are from IT contracting outfits in India (yes, they're all Indian, too). She couldn't name a single developer who wasn't a contractor (even the non-Indian was a contractor).

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jcr (53032)

        Apple outsources their internal IT work, and the Indian vendors tend to be the low bidders. Product development is a different story.

        -jcr

    • by Helen O'Boyle (324127) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:55AM (#31164990) Journal

      It's the H1Bs.

      I don't think that's what's going on, because the government already makes H1B statistics available. They can't be hiding something that's already out there in plain sight. If you want to know how many H1B's have been granted to your least favorite employer, you can look it up! True, the statistics are a couple years behind the current year, but the statistics are THERE.

      Take a look at Microsoft's for example, and take a look at the salaries offered (for those of you who know MS salary levels). And then factor in a good portion of Wipro and other Indian contracting firms requesting H1B's for positions in Redmond, as also likely working at MS. Given how desperate MS is for staff that they'd be importing that many workers, it doesn't make sense that there'd be more than 1-2% tech unemployment in this area, but there is. Still, I don't think that's what Google and Apple don't want others finding out.

      Google/Apple/others MIGHT think (for example) that they're carefully crafting their image to every country they serve, and that a country hearing google only has 7 people on staff from that particular country might feel a bit put out and find reason to, maybe, make a search deal with a competitor who offers more employment to its countrymen. This would be the kind of logic that would lead someone to claim that divulging that information would be too much of a window into strategy.

      Gender, I can't explain as easily. But one look around the annual Microsoft "MVP Conference" occurring in downtown Bellevue, WA this week (near MS) tells me that if they're primarily male, they're not the only ones. So I'm not sure why it'd be an issue, except that it could be as simple as preventing someone from being successful with the argument that, "If you divulged your gender mix, why won't you divulge your racial mix?".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        I'm too lazy to do it again, but if you pull the numbers and do the math, the number of H1Bs that Microsoft employs is a rather small percentage of their total workforce.

        In other words, Microsoft employs a ton of H1B visa holders because it has an absolutely massive overall number of employees. It's not particularly surprising that a company that engages in product development and basic research would require some foreign expertise. (Supporting this theory is that Microsoft's H1B applications have reporte

        • by sodul (833177) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:41AM (#31165864) Homepage

          Disclaimer: I used to be on H1-B and am a permanent resident now.

          Do not forget that it is 65,000 "new" H1Bs, they are valid for 3 years, renewable once for a theoretical total of 6 years. It is also extendable from year to year pending a change of status, usually while the green card application is being processed. Some people can be on H1-B for 12 years with this. Add to that the fact that H1-B are usually concentrated in a few areas and you get more than 1% of the local "workforce" (not the same as population).

          That said I would estimate that the average H1B last 5 years. Personally I think the green card process is broken, if the queue is taking many years to process either the US should put more resources into it (it cost lost of money so it got to be profitable) or be more picky about application and reject them sooner.

          I'm a bit annoyed at all the bad press H1-B visas get. Sure there is a lot of abuse, but I like to believe that in my case there was a genuine need for a foreigner. While being on a H1-B I've quit twice and each time for a significantly larger salary. On my last H1-B year my total compensation was double the required H1-B salary. I have a few friends that have been on H1-B and most of them were much more qualified than the average software developer here in Silicon Valley.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            If a person comes on H1-B, but with intent to settle down and get citizenship, is it really a "job lost to an alien"? Alien today, citizen tomorrow. Taxes still paid within the country, and H1-Bs don't even get all the benefits from that (e.g. they don't get Medicare etc, even though they pay taxes that go towards that).

    • No Joke? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:42AM (#31165444)
      More likely it'll prove this [google.com] wasn't a joke.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gudeldar (705128)
      If Google is trying to hide their H1B statistics then their search engine isn't doing a very good job of it. It took me all of 2 seconds to find this with a search for "google h1b". http://www.myvisajobs.com/Company.aspx?ID=225093 [myvisajobs.com]
  • by soundguy (415780)

    Nobody gives a rat's ass what color they are. The important metric is their EVIL QUOTIENT!

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:38AM (#31164850) Homepage

    So, let me get this straight. A media company wages an 18-month lawsuit against private companies, trying to force them to disclose private data. The media company is doing this purely out of malice, as there is no good that can come from release of this data. On what planet is this sort of thing acceptable?

    Oh, and if anyone says, "Journalists are a sort of magical, pure source of good in our society, white knights protecting the people," that attitude belongs back in the Cronkite era.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jra (5600)

      Yes, it does.

      Shame we're not *in* that era.

      I gather Russia is allowing immigration these days; see ya.

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:54AM (#31164980) Homepage Journal

      [quote]A media company wages an 18-month lawsuit against private companies[/quote]

      I don't think that's true, it looks to me that the lawsuit is against the regulators, not the private companies themselves. The FOIA doesn't apply against companies directly.

      Besides, because Google claims it is diverse on their own site, the only damage would come is if they're lying about it and the slide shows are just tokenism, all the photos appear to be of the same group of 20 or so people. Of which I would shed croc tears if it's an exposed lie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by micheas (231635)

      No you got it wrong.

      What the merc is suing for is the Government data about the ethnic makeup of Googles employees.

      Google is demanding that that Government data not be released to the Merc.

      Even if Google is correct, it is still sort of hard to see how Google fighting this will result in anything good for google.

      The very high importance that Google puts on college GPA probably skews the hiring process away from more entrepreneurial cultures and towards the more academically oriented ones.

  • Trade Secret? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:38AM (#31164852) Journal
    Ignoring the potentially messy, and unbounded, arguments over whether or not anybody should be bothering to collect these data, what sort of "trade secret" could they possibly be?

    Does Google not want Microsoft to scoop them on their new blacksploitation search engine? Would knowing how many women work at Oracle be of the slightest use to a competitor?

    Even if the data were valuable, they are nothing that you couldn't easily enough gather with a statistics grad and a pair of binoculars and a few days casing the relevant corporate campuses(not to mention the more exotic methods: With modern analytical chemistry, the threshold for what you can detect is pretty impressive. You could probably get an approximate gender ratio for a given building just by sampling the sewer outflow for excreted hormones. You could probably also gauge morale: If you know roughly how many people are working there, you can watch the concentrations metabolites for various drugs and get a rough aggregate sense of what, and how much, the building is on. More SSRIs and anxiolytics? Bad times. More cocaine? Ambiguous, or 80's flashback...) You can sample people for sex or color pretty quickly, and accurately enough, from a fair distance. If the data were worth more than peanuts, it'd already be available.
    • by jra (5600)

      > Does Google not want Microsoft to scoop them on their new blaxploitation search engine?

      Oh, that's nice. Best comment all week.

    • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:58AM (#31165024) Journal

      Does Google not want Microsoft to scoop them on their new blacksploitation search engine?

      Too late. If you search for "Shaft" in Google, the top result is the IMDB page for the 2000 remake, which no one wants to see. Bing brings up the wikipedia page for the 1971 original.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Google is basically stipulating that race and gender are influential in its hiring process. Seems like they've backed themselves in to a corner here.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:39AM (#31164854)

    If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

    What is Google hiding?

  • Mercury News: [mercurynews.com] This database includes that Labor Department data for Santa Clara and San Mateo County-based workers at Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, SYNNEX Corp., Calpine Corp., Intel, eBay, Sanmina Corp., and Solectron Corp. The database covers the years 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2005.

  • Why hide how many african americans you have? In the tech field there aren't that many AA engineers around. By empirical observation, I've noticed that most AA tend to get into management. They have the ability, just no interest. Partially, I believe it is because of the inherent geek culture which I think is very white male. Movie quotes, media stuff and what not. For most racial types including the white female, it isn't particularly interesting. If you're brought up in a mostly black culture, I wo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm 35. My father was actively discouraged from pursuing a career in architecture by hostile highschool teachers (he now has a PHD in architecture). Based on a lot of replies (not yours), it takes more than a math genius to understand why there are still very few African American engineers. African Americans remain a numeric minority, only one generation (at best) removed from being told by their own teachers that they are too stupid to aspire to careers like engineering.

    • But how would a company know the race of the people working for them? I would certainly refuse to answer a question about my race. It should have nothing to do with my work. What if a light skinned person identified themselves as African American? Should an instrument be used to measure their albedo? Why should anybody care? I don't.

  • by theodp (442580) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:02AM (#31165066)

    Mercury News: [mercurynews.com] Blacks, Latinos and women lose ground at Silicon Valley tech companies

  • breakdown (Score:4, Funny)

    by binarybum (468664) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:14AM (#31165166) Homepage

    they just don't want us to know that it's about 40%borg and 15%greys

  • by doomy (7461) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:39AM (#31165412) Homepage Journal

    We all knew given the naming of iPad, that they had no women in their marketing/strategic decision making (all that synergy stuff) dept.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:51AM (#31165922)

    Firstly, Google never records the race of their employees unless they fill out an OPTIONAL box on the forms at hiring time. They don't actually HAVE this data to share.

    Secondly, walking around the Google campus, it's definitely not just a ton of white men. There are lots of women (and darn hot ones...), and a huge amount of East and South Asians and South Americans.

    Thirdly, Google is one of the most merit-based companies in existence. Any conclusions based on the race profiles would be completely misguided. Google doesn't care if you're black or white, straight or gay, male or female... there's only one thing that matters - competence.

  • Oh no... this again (Score:3, Informative)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @07:31AM (#31167328) Homepage

    Employers are not sexists and are not racists. They are impatient and cheap. They will pay the lowest wage that anyone will accept. They will hire the first qualified people to fit their needs.

    Business doesn't care and the race or gender of its employees so long as they get the job done.

    Instead of looking where women and black people AREN'T, I think it would be better to look where women and black people ARE and to see why they are happy (?) where they are. If the people who see injustice in the workplace want to make changes, it would be easier to interest these groups of people to move into other professions by making them less comfortable in the jobs they populate today.

    Where I work today, there are five black people. Five out of around 150 employees. Two of those black people are women and they are literally in the paper-pushing department. Two of the black men are exceptionally intelligent people and are employed into some highly technical roles and the other is in administration. The three black men have failed to fit within their stereotype moulds and no one seems at all uncomfortable with that... in fact, I doubt anyone gives it any thought at all except to wonder why they are so different from other black people they may known to see.

    I seriously doubt the black people we have working with us today were hired because of some quota-guilt system. They seem to have been hired because they are qualified for their jobs and seem to do their jobs quite well. In contrast, where we see most black people employed are in roles that are close to the government -- federal, state and local. Why is this? Could it be all the effort that goes into "fairness and equality" has managed to unbalance distribution in another unfair way?

    I guess what I am saying is that perhaps we need to re-examine our current system and philosophy where it comes to "diversity." We have been forcing and enforcing policy for so long, we don't have any idea if the problem has been solved already or not -- or if the solution is actually perpetuating the problem. (By that, I mean to say, are current policies and practices in government actually "guaranteeing" jobs to 'minorities' and therefore making the idea of competing in the marketplace a less attractive option? I think so.)

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