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"Diversity" Instead of Competence
Strange obsession with group identity is a recipe for disaster.
By JOHN LEAKE
A friend who worked on the film Titanic just sent me a report headlined:
Titan Sub: OceanGate CEO Didn't Want to Hire '50-Year-Old White Guys' Because They're Not 'Inspirational'
The report is worth reading in full, but especially noteworthy are statements that OceanGate CEO, Stockton Rush, made in 2020.
When I started the business, one of the things you'll find, there are other sub-operators out there but they typically have gentleman who are ex-military submariners and you'll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys.
I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational and I'm not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology but a 25-year-old you know who's a subpilot or a platform operator or one of our techs can be inspirational. So we've really tried to to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we're doing things that are completely new.
We're taking approaches that are used largely in the aerospace industry, is related to safety and some of the the preponderance of checklists things we do for risk assessments and things like that, that are more aviation related than ocean related and we can train people to do that. We can train someone to pilot the sub, we use a game controller so anybody can drive the sub.
All of the above is a very strange statement that calls into question Mr. Rush’s judgement. If you want to build a submersible that can safely withstand 5000 psi, you need to hire submariners. While aviation design requires an understanding of heavy loads placed on the wings and fuselage, it is nevertheless a different area of expertise. Because submarines operate in the ocean, an “ocean-related” focus is more appropriate than an “aviation-related” focus.
In the medical context, this sort of reasoning is analogous to stating that you want a young and inspiring orthopedic surgeon to perform a heart procedure instead of a seasoned “50-Year-Old White Guy” cardiac surgeon.
To be fair, Mr. Rush probably didn’t give a lot of thought to his statement, which was apparently conditioned by a strange mental habit that has recently become widespread—namely, assessing the right individual for a job NOT for his or her COMPETENCE, but for identification with a particular group or category.
I thought of this not long ago when I borrowed my brother’s pickup truck and ran out of gas on Interstate-35 in Oklahoma. Feeling extremely stupid and helpless—trapped on a narrow shoulder with with semi-truck and trailers whizzing by going 75 miles per hour—the ONLY way out of my predicament was to be rescued by a wrecker driver/operator.
After placing the call on my cell phone and providing my coordinates, I waited for about 20 minutes before a massive truck with a huge flatbed and winch approached and pulled in front of me on the shoulder.
Everything about the operation was exceedingly hazardous. The driver/operator displayed great speed, efficiency, and nerve as he carefully positioned his wrecker, attached the winch cable to the front of my vehicle, and operated the hydraulics on the tilting flatbed—all with cars and trucks blasting by just a few feet away. The air displaced by each passing semi-truck hit us so hard that it shook our vehicles.
Once the man had winched my truck onto the flatbed, I jumped into the cab with him, and he accelerated off the shoulder and onto I-35. I was amazed by the awesome power of the wrecker’s turbo-diesel engine and heavy-duty clutch and transmission—all miracles of engineering and construction.
I thanked him profusely for hauling me and my vehicle to a gas station, and I gave him a huge tip. I also complemented him for his nerves of steel.
“Are you ever afraid of getting taken out by a distracted driver who drifts into the shoulder?” I asked.
“I don’t think about it too much,” he replied. “Though I have heard of several guys who work this job getting killed.”
As he drove away, I thought about just how much he’d done for me. Without him and his specialized equipment and skill, who knows how long I would have been stuck in that terribly precarious position?
I didn’t concern myself with the fact that he was a 50-Year-Old White Guy or that his rural Oklahoma manners had a distinctly masculine edge.