RealClearInvestigations Contributor Thomas Hackett Describes the Diversity Industrial Complex

Feb 16, 2023

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed RealClearInvestigations contributor Thomas Hackett to the newsmaker line to discuss the emergence of the diversity industrial complex and the struggle to understand the role of diversity officers.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line for the very first time here and appearing on The Tennessee Star Report, Thomas Hackett, who’s with RealClearInvestigations. Thomas, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Hackett: Thanks for having me. Michael.

Leahy: Thomas, I just loved the story that you wrote at RealClearInvestigations. The Sudden Dominance of the Diversity Industrial Complex. By the way, how did you come up with that name?

Hackett: That just came about in discussions with my editor and just trying to make sense of this massive bureaucratic juggernaut. And what did it compare to? Eisenhower referred to the military-industrial complex and pointed out that it was not just the military, it was all these contractors. It spread throughout the entire culture. And I think the analogy is good here.

Leahy: I would say it’s brilliant because I read that and I said, well, of course! We are facing the diversity industrial complex and it’s ruining the country. Tell us a little bit more about how this all happened so quickly.

Hackett: Whether we need initiatives like this or not, I think these are interesting questions. I think we can all debate them, you and I. Our politics may not align, but we could certainly discuss it and evaluate it and disagree. I think that’s certainly well within the range. The realm of civil discourse is that we look, hey, what can we do to increase diversity? Are we doing too much?

Have we gone too far? Are we not going far enough? These are just reasonable questions I think we can have. But that’s not what happened. We didn’t actually have a discussion. There was no public debate and there certainly was no internal debate within these major institutions. It just happened. (Chuckles)

It happened the way social contagions happened, reflexively, without any real discussion or thought. I think there were some precedents for it. I think the diversity movement of the early 90s laid some groundwork for it, and I don’t know how old you are, but I was working in newspapers back then and the effort was different, the tone was different.

There was this recognition that the country was becoming more demographic. The demography of the country was changing quite a bit. And people said, okay, what can we do about this? How can we make this work for us? How can we maximize human potential?

There were these kinds of meetings and workshops and companies and corporations. What can we do to get the most out of an increasingly diverse country? The effort was not a moralistic or righteous effort. It was about optimizing value.

Chapman: I would propose it was actually an unrighteous effort. This is Gary. You said a minute ago, what could it do for us? I believe that’s exactly what the motivation was. I think it was all about control. I don’t think it really had anything to do with enhancing the quality of our culture at all. I don’t.

Hackett: What years are you talking about? I’m talking about the early 90s. We have a wealth of this great ethnic rich diversity in this country. How can companies and institutions of all kinds make the most of that? And I think, you know, it was really about optimizing potential.

Leahy: So this is fascinating. I’m looking at your story, a very well-done story, by the way. Listen to this. A woman by the name of Tabby Chavous who is the University of Michigan’s top diversity officer. Now it’s in your story so you know the answer to this.

I’m going to ask the question and just leave it hanging there just for a second so our audience can think about this. It shows her annual salary. I’ll let our audience think for a moment. What do you think the annual salary of the University of Michigan’s top diversity officer is? And the answer is $380,000. Thomas that’s a good gig if you can get it!

Chapman: She must be very, very good at it.

Leahy: She’s very diverse, apparently.

Chapman: Yes, absolutely.

Leahy: How did that happen? How did the industrial diversity complex develop so that you can make $380,000 a year talking about diversity?

Hackett: You asked how she got it. I don’t know how she got it, but one thing that’s worth noting is the person who had the job before her was her husband who made $431,000 a year. (Laughter)

Leahy: That’s obviously sexist.

Chapman: That’s embarrassing. That’s embarrassing.

Leahy: Really.

Hackett: These people are paid more than university presidents at a lot of places. In most places.

Leahy: What do they do? What do they do Thomas?

Hackett: Yes, that’s a question. That’s a question I kept trying to ask and not getting very satisfying answers. They have a lot of meetings. I’m not sure they don’t teach and they don’t do research. If you want to complain about leftist liberal professors, but those people are teaching.

They’re going into the classroom, they’re preparing lectures, they’re grading papers, they’re meeting with students, and they’re also at research universities. They’re producing research. Whatever you think of the quality of the research, they’re having to do it.

There’s pressure on them to do that. So they’re actually doing the work of scholars. Again, we can talk about whether this is worthwhile work or whether there are other ways or some perverse incentives there, but they are doing that work. With the diversity bureaucrats or administrators at universities, it’s simply not clear what they’re doing.

Leahy: They’re virtue signaling, I guess, right? They’re writing virtue-signaling manuals and telling all the faculty and students what they can and cannot do. Let me ask you this broader question. The question is why so many of them are white.

Hackett: The question is why so many of them are white.

Leahy: Yes.

Hackett: If you say, okay, everybody needs to write a diversity statement now to get hired. That didn’t take 167 people to make that statement.

Leahy: I could do it in half an hour.

Hackett: Right. I am mystified about what they do. I do think they throw their weight around quite a bit.

Leahy: Oh, yes, they do.

Chapman: I thought it wasn’t about control.

Hackett: They go into the office…

Chapman: I thought it wasn’t about control. They throw their weight, do they?

Hackett: What does a plumber go and do? Well, you can go watch him. We can go watch what he does. It’s clear what he’s his work is. What does a dentist do?

Leahy: Fixes your teeth. (Chapman chuckles)

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















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