Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 27, 2014

Downside of Diversity

Here is an interesting business article. I never understood why companies such as Apple have to promote such a strong ‘company culture’. The word culture is one of my bad words. I don’t like the word because there is nothing absolute in it. No one really defines it. But according to the article, ‘company culture’ means ‘anti-diversity’ and is necessary for the business to function better.

With a company like Nintendo, it is obvious that ‘diversity’ means conflict with different languages. There is a reason why Nintendo just can’t go and buy Western software companies. However, in order to sell internationally, Nintendo requires international people. The marketing and sales people are all of the different country. Reggie Fils-Aime is president of NOA because he is a native English speaker. While Mr. Iwata does speak English very well, he will not beat a native English speaker (just like a native Japanese speaker will beat out a learned one).

What I so enjoy about the article is that it skews a sacred cow: diversity. It has become such an empty platitude. I think intellectual honesty demands that we question every platitude we hear just to keep everyone honest. It’s interesting that the only one questioning the diversity platitude is a Harvard Business academic. His answer that multi-national corporations create ‘strong company cultures’ to solidify the ‘diversity’ makes sense.

There is much ‘diversity’ in the oil industry. Look at the population of Houston, and you can see how most of the transplants came from oil producing nations. From people I talk to, some assume Mexicans make up most of the oil work and that Spanish is spoken a ton. Oil work is not manual work like farm work or construction. Oil work is extremely technical. Aside from the new contracts that Mexico has made by removing their government monopoly on Mexican oil, the Spanish language has very little presence in the oil industry. English dominates and is mandatory because everything offshore is English spoken because English ruled the seas so activity in the seas is in English. (It is mandatory for safety reasons. In order for an oil company to hire ‘offshore’, they have to go to the Philippines or some other native English speaking country.) In Houston, there is a heavy presence of Vietnamese and Nigerians. Why? Because both their nations are oil producers. As for language, after English the other languages in demand appear to be Russian (Russia produces oil), Portuguese (Brazil produces oil), and a few others that I can’t remember at the moment. French has no value in the oil industry because France doesn’t produce oil.

While the oil companies are probably the most diverse companies in the entire globe (as they are the most international), you might ask how they can unite everyone and not have conflict? The answer is through a ‘strong culture’. And what is this ‘oil culture’?

Boy, do the oil companies love throwing around dollar signs. ‘Show me the money’ is the culture which everyone lives. What ‘culture’ could oil workers possibly have freezing their asses off in North Dakota or in the tar sands of Alberta? It’s all about the money. If the money wasn’t there, they sure as hell wouldn’t be out there.


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