By Matthew Syed

Do you groan when you hear the word diversity? Do you think of political correctness and dubious social engineering? If so, you are not alone. I went to a human resources (HR) conference a while ago and heard a presentation on how all organisations would become more effective if only they could become more diverse. It was positioned as a matter of logical necessity.

The problem emerged during the Q&A. A bespectacled chap at the back posed a question about an Olympic relay team. If the coach decides to recruit the four fastest runners, but they all happen to be the same race, gender, age and sexual orientation, would this be a problem? “If the coach diversified the team,” he went on, “wouldn’t that mean…