This blog will use the late Xerox CEO Joseph C.Wilson's 1968 memo to his managers as a starting point for criticism of affirmative action/diversity policies in the United States. I believe that Mr. Wilson's destructive policy set the tone for all subsequent corporate/governmental affirmative action policies.
Let's get the discussion rolling. Here is the full text of the memo [bold and italics added for emphasis]:
May 2, 1968
To All Xerox Managers:
We at Xerox are among those who are compelled to accept
the indictment of the National Advisory Commission on
Civil Disorders: What white Americans have never fully
understood -- but what the Negro can never forget -- is
that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto.
White institutions created it. white institutions maintain
it, and white society condones it.
We, like all other Americans, share the responsibility for
a color-divided nation; and in all honesty, we need not
look beyond our own doorstep to find out why.
In Rochester, one of the first American cities scarred by
racial strife, Xerox continues to employ only a very small
percentage of Negroes. In other major -cities, including
some that have suffered even greater violence, we employ
no Negroes at all.
Thus, despite a stated policy that seeks to fulfill our
obligations to society -- and even though the significant
steps we have taken have been publicly praised -- our
performance is still far from a shining beacon of corporate
We know, of course, that many Negroes - fearing rejection -
simply don't apply to Xerox for jobs. And of those who do
apply, many fail to meet our usual standards of qualification.
But those factors obviously cannot be used as excuses. They
are, rather, the very problems which Xerox must and will attack
in the future.
In order to respond with concerted action to the Advisory
Commission's recommendations that American industry hire,
train and suitably employ one million Negroes within the
next three years, we are therefore going to adopt these
immediate courses of action:
First, we will heavily intensify our recruiting of Negroes
and other minorities. If, as our past experience indicates,
they are reluctant to dome to us, then we will go to them.
A special recruiting effort at University Microfilms in
Ann Arbor, Michigan has proved the validity of this approach
by substantially increasing minority employment in the space
of a few months. We will now extend that effort throughout
all the departments, divisions, and subsidiaries of Xerox.
Secondly, all managers responsible for hiring -- regardless
of geographical location -- will re-examine their selection
standards and training programs. Our past efforts, by and
large, have sought to find only the best qualified people
for Xerox, regardless of age, race or religion. But that
goal, however valid, has inadvertently excluded many good
people from productive employment.
We are, accordingly, going to change the selection standards
that screen out all but the most qualified people. We will
also begin devoting special attention to minority employees
of limited qualifications to make them genuinely productive
in the shortest possible time. Hopefully we can maintain
standards of performance throughout.
Effective immediately, therefore, all Xerox managers are
directed, on an individual basis, to begin this effort, pending
a more systematic company-wide revision of standards.
Thirdly, we are planning to increase substantially our training
of unqualified Negroes, and other minority members.
Although the Project Step Up Program to qualify people for
entry level jobs has been successful in the Rochester area,
we feel that its scope must be considerably broadened and the
entry requirements modified. We are presently planning to
incorporate the program into our present hiring process, and
to extend it to major Xerox facilities outside Rochester.
The full and unqualified cooperation of all Xerox managers
is expected in reaching our minority hiring goals. Corporate
Personnel has been given the responsibility for implementing
our plans, and for establishing an accountability system
through which top management -- beginning immediately -- can
regularly assess progress in all divisions, departments and
subsidiaries of the corporation.
Today there are 22 million Negroes in the United States.
The exclusion of many of them from our society is a
malignancy that the nation cannot endure. To include them as
integral to the nation, however, will mean even more than
the correction of an intolerable injustice. It will also
mean the creation of an enormous and affluent market for
new products and services, and of an equally enormous pool
of manpower to help meet the critical shortages predicted
for the future.
We are fully aware, of course, of the progress that Xerox
has already made in assisting the dvii rights movement.
But it simply has not gone far enough.
We must do more because Xerox will not add to the misery of
the present condition of most Negroes. It will not condone
the waste of a great national resource. It will not com~
promise the conviction on which the success of this enterprise
and of the nation depends.
Joseph C. Wilson C. Peter McColough