Two LA area colleges, UCLA and USC, have a famous rivalry. Imagine that local law firms took sides, preferring to hire graduates from one or the other law school. Imagine further that some USC lawyers at a UCLA-favoring firm complained about this, calling it bias, pure and simple; UCLA grads coordinate to prefer other ULCA grads, independent of their qualifications. These USC lawyers demand a quota system, to ensure equitable hiring. If management resists, they plan to go to the media, to get the public mad about this, and then either use legal or norm/mob pressures to get their way.
I'm happy to endorse more competition in Human Resources policies and perspectives. Yes, coordination there is potentially one of those "choke points" I worry about.
You don't mention the biggest source of this conformist pressure, which is the human resources industry. Markets don't necessarily help here.
If it's a liquid, transparent market, it'll converge to some kind of Market Portfolio of assets/beliefs/practices, which then is adopted by every risk-averse market participant.
The human resources industry has adopted these norms not just because of social pressure or regulation, but because of market pressure.
The only way to reduce this pressure is to make HR management markets (and maybe even labor markets) smaller and less connected. That'll reintroduce some variability back into human resources practices.
Small law firms that hire the same HR managers & recruiters from a global pool of (interchangeable HR managers for all orgs) will end up with all the same HR practices. Competition at the final layer doesn't help if the supporting layers have been standardized by markets. Small firms don't have the power to dictate terms to their suppliers.
This is an obvious but unfortunately underappreciated point. Phrasing it in general terms as you did makes it more powerful than the common complaint leveled against progressives (you say everyone is all so racist and then hand over extra power to people your theory says will also be racists).
I do think it makes for an interesting exercise to look at the effects of the new focus on diversity in academia. It doesn't seem to be doing much to increase minority representation in academia since there aren't many minority applicants. But what it does seem to do is function as a kind of mutual admiration society for people who have a certain background and views.
This is a really good post that deserves wide attention. I especially like the framing of the issue, in that it avoids the landmines that usually make similar discussions unproductive.
I do indeed; fixed.
"Firm leaders say instead that UCLA trains better in their type of law, they can find better people by using personal connections, and many of their clients and collaborating specialists (like detectives) are also UCLA grades."
You meant "UCLA grads" I think