A “mirrortocracy” (mirror + meritocracy) is an organization that is composed of people not necessarily on merit, but of people who “mirror” others already in the organization (such as a company founder). Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, used the term “mirrortocracy” to describe hiring in the Silicon Valley tech sector. Kapor differed with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who preferred to hire young computer nerds just like himself. Kapor argued that companies should hire for diversity to avoid “mirrortocracies.”
The “mirrortocracy” term became popular in June 2014, when Carlos Bueno wrote “Inside the Mirrortocracy.” Bueno, who said that he got the term from Kapor, wrote:
“The problem is that Silicon Valley has gone completely to the other extreme. We’ve created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we’ve created seem pretty similar.”
Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō “earn” and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos “strength, power") is a political philosophy which holds that power should be vested in individuals almost exclusively according to “merit” demonstrated at an early age. Advancement in such a system is based on intellectual talent measured through examination and/or demonstrated achievement in the field where it is implemented.
Wikipedia: Mitch Kapor
Mitchell David Kapor (born November 1, 1950) is the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3. He is also a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was the first chair of the Mozilla Foundation.
Mitch Kapor vs. Mark Zuckerberg
March 24, 2007
Mitch’s presentation was one of my favorite of the day, and one of the thing he emphasized was that you should hire for diversity because diverse groups of people innovate more. Diversity here is defined as a function of experience, background, family status, as well as the traditional definitions like gender, et al. He says that one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurship makes is building “mirrortocracies” instead of meritocracies, meaning they tend to hire people like themselves rather than hiring the best people regardless of backgrounds, and the company suffers as a result.
Diversity in Hiring – Mirrortocracy or Meritocracy?
August 19, 2009 · by Ashish Sinha
As Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus, says: One must be careful not to create mirrortocracies in place of meritocracies. Mirrortocracies are companies where people tend to hire people like themselves as opposed to hiring the best people for the job. The company will inevitably suffer as a result. Hiring and sustaining a diverse workforce requires an open company culture, transparency in decision making and equitable governance. We need to take steps fast in that direction.
The Register (UK)
The Silicon Valley mirror-tocracy
Are these startups relevant to anyone outside the bubble?
By Matt Asay, 1 Nov 2011
Open ... And Shut In the latest round of Silicon Valley navel-gazing, CNN’s recent airing of Black in America gets technology prophet and pundit Michael Arrington on the record as not “know[ing] a single black entrepreneur.”
Well, maybe he doesn’t. After all, for all the talk about Silicon Valley as a meritocracy, the truth is that it’s more of a “mirror-tocracy,” as Mitch Kapor argues, with white and Asian male VCs funding entrepreneurs who largely look just like them. Compounding this problem, Silicon Valley is overly focused on the short-term picture, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declares. Does this mean that entrepreneurs would be better served staffing up outside the Valley? Perhaps.
New term - mirrortocracy: system composed of people who fit pattern most familiar to you instead of those most deserving. HT @mkapor
1:57 AM - 1 Nov 2011
Inside the Mirrortocracy
The problem is that Silicon Valley has gone completely to the other extreme. We’ve created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we’ve created seem pretty similar.
(Mitch—ed.) Kapor is the legendary founder of Lotus, which more or less kicked off the personal computer revolution by making desktop computers relevant to business. He spoke about the dangers of what he called the “mirror-tocracy”: confirmation bias, insularity, and cliquish modes of thinking. He described the work of his institute to combat bias, countering the anecdotes and fantasies that pass for truth with actual research about diversity in the workplace.
Calling it out and making fun of it is not enough. Whatever else one can say about the Mirrortocracy, it has the virtue of actually working, in the sense that the lucky few who break in have a decent rate of success. Compared to what, well, that is carefully left unasked. The collateral damage of “false negatives” is as large as it is invisible. But it is difficult to argue with success. It takes a humility and generosity that must come from within. It can’t be forced on others, only encouraged to develop.
Mirrortocracy is a far better term for what we have in the tech industry. http://carlos.bueno.org/2014/06/mirrortocracy.html …
1:37 PM - 23 Jun 2014
Mirrortocracy: “a pseudo-scientific mythos to reinforce belief only people who look/talk like us are worth noticing.” http://carlos.bueno.org/2014/06/mirrortocracy.html …
San Francisco, CA
10:24 AM - 25 Jun 2014
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, June 25, 2014 • Permalink