916 Comments

New to TFP so am late to this conversation, but want to present a slightly different perspective. I agree that DEI has gone too far with executive hiring, admissions selection, etc. for all the reasons that Mr. Ackman cites, but there are some principles that should be retained and be part of basic management training. 1. Diverse teams are good for business. You need people who understand your customer base who can help you develop competitive products and services. 2. You need to know how to hire and develop promising and diverse employees so they are ready for more responsibility later on. 3. You also need to know how to get the most out of a diverse team. That involves knowing how to encourage people to share their ideas and perspectives and keeping dialog moving in a positive direction.

Expand full comment

I find myself in almost total agreement with observations, insights, and conclusions expressed in this letter by MR. Ackman. However, his letter leaves me with a nagging question: why did it take the racist, antisemitic statements by student groups that were tacitly supported by the Harvard administration on October 8 to prompt Mr. Ackman to realize that something was rotten in Denmark.

The DEI ideology, the speech codes, the oppressor / oppressed framework for analyzing all social conflicts and problems, the racism (for one example remember Harvard treatment of Asians during the student selection process), and the move away from recognizing and rewarding merit has been a feature of Harvard for at least a decade or more.

Former president Gay’s lack of accomplishments were evident from the moment she was announced. Before becoming president she was instrumental in stifling the career of one of the country’s most promising young black economists, because his research did not conform to the progressive racial consensus that has emerged among acceptable black scholars. Given her past, her performance as president should not have been a surprise.

The fact that prestigious and accomplished Harvard graduates ( and similar graduates from other elite universities) like him have chosen to overlook or look away from these institutionally and socially destructive policies and practices is the reason why they have proliferated not only at Harvard but widely throughout our society.

Expand full comment

“In a normal corporate context with the above set of facts, the full board would resign immediately to be replaced by a group nominated by shareholders. In the case of Harvard, however, the board nominates itself and its new members. There is no shareholder vote mechanism to replace them.“

This is how single party control works.

Expand full comment

I came here to comment on the Ackman piece and entered a lunatic asylum of unrelated ranting and raving. I am going to leave and crack open an iced cold adult beverage.

Expand full comment

I like the left's answer to such "failed" institutions. Burn it down.

Expand full comment

The proposed new UPenn Constitution is brilliant in its uncomplicated and clear principles. If Penn and every other University adopted the same proposed constitution our Universities would quickly transform back to the respected institutions they once were, and importantly, would be preparing students to be significant contributors to society and our Democracy.

Thank you Mr Ackman for your keen focus on the issues plaguing Harvard, Penn and so many of our (not so) “elite” Universities.

Expand full comment

Well said. The true definition of DEI is Division, Exclusion and Idiocy. I look forward to the day when the vile imposition of DEI is removed from every educational institution, corporation and public institution. The damage it has created will last a generation until all the snowflakes have undergone deprogramming and we can get back to striving to be a meritocratic society.

Expand full comment

Did you just spell "Native" incorrectly and use different font sizes?

LOL!

Expand full comment

Hard to know. AMA has always been primarily a financially driven entity although it does promote science. In this case, one has to wonder.

Expand full comment

I saw on tv last night that Sharpton has inserted himself and his “team” into the discussion by protesting at your place Mr Akman. I’m old enough to know Sharpton’s long dishonest, self-serving history and pray that you do not stop being vocal and fighting this most important fight for our nation, because of his intimidation tactics. Thank you for stepping up to be one of our most important warriors...the country needs many more like you!

Expand full comment

Well, there’s a lot of talk about the Harvard administration, that’s fine. But, the rot started in the faculty. Hire qualified professors based on merit not color or sex. Including conservatives. Lose the protection that tenure offers, nobody else has a career long job guarantee.

Expand full comment

I wonder where the writer lived during the past decade that only now he notices the phoniness of DEI, the racism of anti-racism, etc. But others have commented on it already so I pass.

I would like to comment on this passage: "I have always believed that diversity is an important feature of a successful organization, but by diversity I mean diversity in its broadest form: diversity of viewpoints, politics, ethnicity, race, age, religion, experience, socioeconomic background, sexual identity, gender, one’s upbringing, and more". Oh come on! Imagine a military unit or a political party diverse in viewpoints and politics, imagine the Emerald Society, the B'nai Brith, the Macedonian Patriotic Organization (just to pick a few) diverse in ethnicity, imagine the NBA diverse in race, imagine a mountain climbing party diverse in experience ... This was virtue-signaling at its best (i.e. worst).

Expand full comment

Well done. DEI has been going on for a while now, but it's at crazy levels currently. All of this exposes the hypocrisy of Harvard.

Man. It's a bad parody, the Gay fiasco, dark comedy; total farce. It's exhausting to watch progressives constantly circle the wagons and lie, gaslight and pump endless bullshit into the discourse. Since Floyd, the left has lost their goddamn minds.

Here's my piece on Gay: https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/the-problem-with-claudine-gay

Michael Mohr

Sincere American Writing

https://michaelmohr.substack.com/

Expand full comment

I can see why Harvard took down some of the material from the website of their diversity office.

Harvard's Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (ODIB) posted a 27-page guide of their foundational concepts. Along with defining things such as "microagression," it included gems such as: "A Non-Racist: A non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called “blaming the victim”). Responsibility for perpetuating and legitimizing a racist system rests both on those who actively maintain it, and on those who refuse to challenge it. Silence is consent."

https://web.archive.org/web/20210727120049/https://dib.harvard.edu/files/dib/files/odib_foundational_concepts_and_affirming_language_final.10.6.20.pdf

Expand full comment

They even had two definitions for Anti—Racist:

1. As applied to White People: Being antiracist evolves with their racial identity

development. They must acknowledge and understand their privilege, work to change

their internalized racism, and interrupt racism when they see it.

2. As applied to People of Color: It means recognizing how race and racism have been

internalized, and whether it has been applied to other people of color.

Expand full comment

Bill-

You have one BIG BLIND SPOT in your EXCELLENT thoughts on these issues and it is in your “own house”.

Corporations like yours with ESG scores and DEI also bow to the pressure of victim oppressor ideology. DEI/ESG recruiters in the corporate financial world (with diversity analytics tools as pointed out in todays WSJ by the CEO of Paradigm Staffing), prioritize applicants that check the right diversity box so even the most qualified straight white male doesn’t get invited to participate in the recruitment process or gets sacrificed on the altar of DEI in the final rounds. see https://www.privatefundscfo.com/a-seat-at-the-table-inclusion-has-become-a-crucial-factor-in-pe-talent-recruiting/ This is rampant in PE and the financial world right NOW!

The reason why, as Graham Cunningham bluntly states, is “The Left’s appeal to the prosperous middle class is an essentially narcissistic and performative one; offering a way to feel more sophisticated than thou and a cost-free way to feel virtuous.” I know this is a hard truth wrapped in good intentions. Being born in 1963 to white upper middle class Jewish parents. I was raised with a constant drum beat of rising up against the white dominant culture ( now considered the oppressor) as our noble cause. To be absolved the “white patriarchy” of our comfortable upper middle class suburban life we sought the constant endorphins of “speaking truth to power.” But in the end, it was as toxic as it was intoxicating. As white wealthy Jews we MUST first take the painful step of turning inward. My Jewish, intermittent fasting, yoga pantsed, Range Rover driving, hate doesn’t live here lawn signers, BLM donor, suburban moms were GOB SMACKED when the black/ brown, lgbtqia2s+ and other assorted bag of rainbow haired pierced radical campus progressive community was screaming for the genocide of Jews on their babies 70k a year elite college campuses.

We must stop rationalizing this for our own need to be more virtuous than our other white peers and cut the head off the victim oppressor reward for immutable traits industrial complex and dig deep into all of the processes, relationships, memberships, donations, actions etc. that feed this in our own lives and that includes the hiring at companies like yours or Apollo, Goldman etc. Just as we have seen our institutions like Harvard fall to the take over of “spoilt-brat radicalism” and the left-wing fraud “a posh person’s mind games” “corroding us from within” (quoting from Graham Cunningham’s article) we need to own the role we played in this and continue to play and clean our own house too before they fall like the Harvard's of the world!

Expand full comment
Jan 4·edited Jan 4

History will look back October 7 as the beginning of the end of DEI. The subsequent protests and open antisemitism caused a big bright light to be shone on the rot in higher education in the USA. Clear for all to see. Bill Ackman would never have dared to pen this letter before October 7. Bari was the first prominent journalist I know of with the courage to come straight to the point and say openly that DEI must go. Her courage inspired others to follow her lead. Very well done Mr Ackman, thank you.

Expand full comment