Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not ends

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are means to an end, not ends themselves.

For instance, excellence is an end, and diversity is a means to that end when we go looking for the seeds of excellence in places we haven’t looked before.

Equity is a means to excellence if it incentivizes more people to be excellent, but remember that line from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1838): “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.” Equity is always tempted to pull excellence away from itself.

Inclusivity is a means to excellence when it makes people feel safe enough to pursue it, but inclusivity can also sow the seeds of mediocrity. We loved when Simon Cowell would bluntly tell American Idol singers that their voice shouldn’t be included in the canon of excellent music.

Granted, Steve Jobs was crazy, but thank God Apple’s founder was obsessed with excellence and not its means.