Ah, the beloved tank top-wearing, Natty Lite-consuming, weight-lifting frat bros of the Syracuse campus. You can brew a jungle juice that’s capable of getting a bear wasted and darty till the cows come home, but what will happen to you come May? The numbers point to great things: 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives are former frat bros, as well as 18 former U.S. presidents. If you’ve ever walked into the basement of a frat house, these numbers might seem slightly mind-boggling. How on earth does someone who also has a brand on his ass ever make it in the real world?
The frat bros of Walnut and Comstock will waltz across the graduation stage with the rest of us and right into the eager arms of the leaders of the real world’s boys clubs, forming the privileged and white workplace version of the frat house. Natty Lites are replaced with happy hour bourbons, and the bros head to glitzy restaurants instead of Varsity at the end of a long day.
The jump from frat house to cubicles and bonus checks is not difficult for the branded few to make. According to a Bloomberg article from 2013, former fraternity bros are sent back to their campuses as recruiters to tap the next class of employees. The article describes one scenario in which an SAE member reached out to a recent grad at the Bank of Montreal, and in return got an email signed with their not so secret motto, “Phi Alpha.” A University of Pennsylvania Sig Chi was greeted at a Barclays recruiting event with the chapter’s signature handshake and a business card. And, I shit you not, the same bro is quoted saying “We’re trying to create Sigma Chi on Wall Street, a little fraternity on Wall Street.”
Having a mini Sig Chi is great for the bros who get to pretend they never left the frat house, but not for anyone else. The bros chose in college to surround themselves with clones of themselves, and likely didn’t make the effort to branch out of their comfortable circle of fellow white dudes. If they are continuously afforded this luxury in the real world, they start to see their environments as an accurate reflection of the world—forgetting entirely about the existence of anyone who thinks or looks different from them. As the bros rise through the ranks to positions where they having hiring power, they are blind to the values of diverse candidates, and create the hegemony that envelops certain workspaces (what’s up, Silicon Valley).
Unless you’ve been blinded by pulsating strobe lights, you’ve probably also noticed the men sporting ass brands have a few other things in common, namely race and socioeconomic status. Fraternity dues at Cuse tend to be around $900 per semester, narrowing down potential members to those only with a hefty disposable income, and although the North American Fraternity Council does not supply data on their members’ backgrounds, research from Princeton University shows that 73 percent of its fraternity members were white, and 95 percent were from families considered the “one percent.” Syracuse is leagues away from being an Ivy, but it is not hard to imagine that a study done here would reveal similar outcomes.
Cookie cutter offices full of bros are also bad for the bottom line. We know that at this point, having people from all sorts of backgrounds leads to more innovative and creative work environments, but having people with diverse thinking methods leads to the same benefits. A study led by a professor at Kellogg School of Management tested the effects of introducing newcomers to groups of people in the same fraternities and sororities. The groups of four were asked to work through a problem and come up with a consensus as a group. They found that homogenous groups were more likely to get the answer wrong, but feel more confident in their decision, while the groups with one non-Greek member were more likely to be right, but feel weird about their decision. Offices made up of bro clones will march confidently in the wrong direction; blind to the fact they are approaching the cliff’s edge.
It is mind blowing that this type of blatant fratty nepotism continues, but it is no secret that diversifying the workplace is an uphill battle. People want to hire other people who look and act like them, and who come from similar backgrounds and operate in a similar way. But times can, and do, change. Women went from voting to “leaning in” at their spots at the exec table. As those who aren’t male, white, and privileged fight inch by inch for their own space in the office, the frat boys will lose the networks they hold so dear. As any tweeting, whiny youngin’ would say, let’s all get “woke” and put an end to the homogeneous workplace.