diversity, double standard, affirmative action
Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law
During the Senate’s closed confirmation hearings on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s nomination of George E. Wilson, President of General Motors, to be Secretary of Defense, a senator asked Wilson if he would be able to make decisions as Secretary of Defense that were adverse to General Motors’ interest. Wilson replied that he would, but added he could not imagine having to make such a choice because “[f]or years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.” This bit of rhetorical bromide was reported erroneously by the press, which had been excluded from the closed hearing, as the arrogant manifesto of corporate superiority with which most of us are familiar: “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.”
In a similar fashion, Professor Sung Hui Kim has converted the important but benign amicus support that General Motors and sixty-five other major American corporations gave to the University of Michigan in Grutter v. Bollinger into a hypocritical “diversity double standard,” because they allegedly embraced a diversity standard in Grutter that they would not accept for themselves. According to Kim, the corporate amici argued “that universities should promote diversity because it’s good for business,” but did not “make even a passing reference to the economic self-interest of universities or, for that matter, any of the significant costs that affirmative action programs generate for universities.” Kim argues, however, that the very factors the corporate amici ignored in Grutter are central to their assessment of the appropriateness of diversity for themselves.
James E. Coleman Jr., Different Strokes for Different Folks: A Different Standard Is Not Inherently a Double Standard, 89 North Carolina Law Review 1003-1016 (2011).