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DEI and Safety at Boeing: Red Flagging a Red Herring

A recent mishap involving loose bolts, and a door coming off a plane mid-flight has somehow brought DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) efforts into the spotlight. This incident is undoubtedly troubling, but an interesting and somewhat puzzling argument has emerged in some discussions: the idea that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts at Boeing are somehow connected to these mechanical problems. Let's break down this argument and see why it constitutes a classic example of a rhetorical device called a "red herring."

Some individuals claim that Boeing's emphasis on DEI initiatives has led to a prioritization of DEI efforts over competence. In their view, this shift in priorities might have resulted in a lax approach to quality control, ultimately leading to loose bolts and safety issues like doors detaching in mid-flight. They offer no evidence, just opinion and conjecture. In a court of law their case against DEI would fail miserably.

Debunking the Red Herring

The argument connecting DEI efforts to plane safety issues is a classic red herring because it diverts attention from the real problem – loose bolts and safety concerns in aviation – by introducing an unrelated issue. It creates a false dichotomy between diversity and competence, implying that an organization cannot simultaneously prioritize both. In short, it misleads.

In Reality

Companies can strive for diversity and inclusion while maintaining the highest standards of technical competence and safety. These goals are not mutually exclusive; rather, they complement each other. A diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives and skills that contribute positively to safety and innovation. From a brain perspective, addressing things line psychological safety can have a significant positive impact on physical safety.

Raising a Red Flag

It's essential to recognize the red herring fallacy when it appears in discussions. Diversity, equity, inclusion are essential values for any organization. Executed well, they contribute to cultivating a high-performance culture. DEI should not be used as a scapegoat for unrelated issues. So, be wary and do not fall prey to those who use a classical rhetorical device (often in politics), to mislead and point the listener to false conclusions.

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