Unpopular Opinion- Legacy vs AA

I saw this on another thread and was curious what people think. I often see the argument that legacy kids are no more qualified than AA kids, and therefore people should be equally frustrated with them. I wasn't legacy, and I'm not AA- so I hope I have an objective perspective.

I think we can agree people should be judged off what they bring to the firm/school. A connection or a large donation is a tangible improvement to business- Jeff Bezos son working at GS is going to bring in business, the top universities in the world are the best because they have the largest endowments (alumni donate to get children in). AA kids often don't bring as much new to the school/workplace.. new perspectives? Inspiration of someone working hard? Tell me why an affluent African American has had a tougher journey than an inner city Asian kid... (if we are going to do AA can we at least base it off socio-economic class).

"Qualified" is not just what you've done-it's what you bring. You don't get hired for being intelligent, you get hired if you are going to make the place better and more successful. IMO, money and new business will always be more important to an institutions survival and success than artificial diversity- I'm sorry if that is upsetting

Incoming MS.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (4)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 3:19am
  • "I think we can agree people should be judged off what they bring to the firm/school"
    If this is your starting premise, then I'd generally believe that a large number of people would agree with you (not that large means anything here).

  • "A connection or a large donation is a tangible improvement to business- Jeff Bezos son working at GS is going to bring in business, the top universities in the world are the best because they have the largest endowments (alumni donate to get children in)." I'd generally agree with the first sentence, but there are plenty of instances where connections to a business have been "value destoroying" in the future. If we were to write your statement 10 years ago and replace Jeff Bezos with Jeffrey Epstein, then we'd see that things don't always turn out as they might assume to be. Even in your example of Jeff Bezos bringing in business, I think it's easy to think of hypothetical ways that he could bring in business, but it's also pretty easy to see how he could deter future clients from doing business with GS.

  • "AA kids often don't bring as much new to the school/workplace.. new perspectives?" I think this is the sentence that deserves the most scrutiny. Have you looked at studies that can confirm this? There are a lot of ways to add value to a firm, and they don't always have to be immeditly tangible for it to be valid. You mentioned the example of future alumni donations being a tangible, easily identifiable value add. Well, if we're creating examples, then what if a AA hire inspired some kid to work at that same firm or apply to the same school, and they later became a billionaire, consequntly donating millions to the firm/school? Additionally, a AA hire might not give "you" inspiration, but it might inspire some kids or event thousands of kids to want to work at that firm. Even in this example: if a AA hire happens to be, say hispanic, and you have a future hispanic client, wouldn't having an employee that shares a background with the client be a clear advnatage to the firm? They could be chatting it away in happy hour while someone with a different background might not be able to connect as well.

  • "Tell me why an affluent African American has had a tougher journey than an inner city Asian kid." I can see why you said this, it's a hyperbole to clearly illustrate the worst possible scenario. And I agree with your assessment of the statement. It obviously isn't fair, but I don't think it's a reasonable argument at all, especially since it's the most jarring example that anyone could think of...

  • "'Qualified' is not just what you've done-it's what you bring. You don't get hired for being intelligent, you get hired if you are going to make the place better and more successful." Again, what someone can bring to a firm might not always be so obvious to you or a group or people that all think the same. And I'm don't think the second sentence is that true or helps your argument at all. Making the place better and more successful and be caused by your execution of your intelligence, but I understand what you're trying to communicate. What makes you qualified it not a single factor, e.g., intelligence, but a multitude of factors and how well you can use them to add value to the firm. Would you agree with that?

  • "IMO, money and new business will always be more important to an institutions survival and success than artificial diversity- I'm sorry if that is upsetting." I think the sentence that is the least objective. How do we know that money and new business can't be caused by having a more diverse workforce? If by important you mean that money and new business are more important becasue they create more value, then I'd simply say that a more diverse workforce can creare value and therefore can be equally as important. Additionally, what does artificial diversity mean? And the existence of artificial diversity implies the existenc of natural(?) diversity.

I wanted to take the time and reply to your post becasue I emphassize with you and many others. I'm neither a legacy kid or a AA kid, but the issue is more complicated than the simple examples that paint AA as a terrible initiative (which is easy to do with hyperboles).

As a last note, your example, "Jeff Bezos son working at GS is going to bring in business, the top universities in the world are the best because they have the largest endowments (alumni donate to get children in)," maybe implies that we should accept instances where the sons of billionaires are hired at firms, and one influential factor is new business caused by being the son or daughter of a billionaire. If we were to accept these, we'd also accept that fact that life isn't fair. If we accept that life isn't fair, then we should also accept the AA initiative, right? Since we can't choose the color of our skin or our socioeconomic background at birth. Your parents and the color of your skin are both things we can't choose, right?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 4:26am

Thanks for that very detailed response. I think in general we agree. With regards to the Jeff Bezos argument/Epstein, although there are bad apples in most cases the relationship and new business is beneficial- like AA IMO to a certain degree. I think you discount that too much.

With regards to artificial racism I define that as diversity for appearance rather than true change. Or hiring affluent POCs who haven't had to face systemic problems.

What it boils down to really, and I think we would agree on this, is how we measure the value of diversity. Money and connections are tangible-diversity isn't. You mentioned I was being subjective in this regard, but I would have to suggest you are (and everyone is) as well. I agree seeing someone who looks like you is inspirational and count move a client to select your team- but is AA really necessary to do that? I think there are plenty of very qualified AA kids who would get the job regardless (particularly because I agree diversity can also improve business). AA discounts the accomplishments of truly incredible POC who overcome the hurdles presented to them in their quest to success. So long as their is AA, there will always be racism. Naturally, over time as the world gets more progressive, I think racism will fade away as it should.

I would have to say though- I stand by my original assertion that a wealthy and connected employee brings more business and success to a company than an AA candidate. They will already have the relationships and reputations, and often these kids are groomed since birth due to their socio-economic privilege to understand financial markets- even if their GPA doesn't reflect that.

Thank you for taking the time to respond- I think in 30 years we'll see who was right on this issue... Only once AA and elite kids start running their own deals and funds will we see which have been more successful- whoever is a bigger rainmaker throughout their career will be promoted, and those are the people that banks and school should focus on recruiting.

I'm glad civil discourse can happen anonymously online at least on this site..

Most Helpful
  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jul 2, 2020 - 3:40am

Except firms and schools dont have to choose between diversity and legacy. They select both. If youre just an average white male, youre a dime a dozen, so what marginal benefit do you bring to them over some black kid who makes the firm look better, someone with better connections, or someone who is smarter?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 4:32am

Blanditiis esse alias occaecati laborum et est. Iusto blanditiis doloribus nulla voluptas repellendus quis quia. Dignissimos aspernatur dolorem quasi ut rem sequi enim animi. Et natus vitae sed deserunt quia rerum ratione. Eveniet iste sit omnis aut rerum et.

Ad sapiente in omnis vero ipsa esse dolores perspiciatis. Nostrum et perferendis vero dolorem quidem eos. Ex optio non officiis. Quo pariatur tempore tempora voluptates ea est veniam.

Esse dolor sint enim et. Accusantium suscipit voluptas commodi eveniet cum adipisci temporibus. Earum qui asperiores dolorem et quidem.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (38) $367
  • Associates (218) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (130) $153
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (30) $147
  • Intern/Summer Associate (102) $144
  • 1st Year Analyst (478) $135
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (375) $82