Not a bad story and lots of good things to think about.
Thinking about privilege and how hiring the privileged might not be a bad strategy. Actually more like hiring privileged individuals who also had to overcome adversity. Ones that had to work hard for what they got but also got a lot because of their privilege. These might just be some of the most talented and hard working employees you can find. I think of myself as an example of this I come from a working class white background in a economically depressed area, second generation college educated. Started working before I was even in high school. Got to go to good schools and participated in many extra curricular activities. I worked as farm labor, manual labor, musician, skilled factory labor, tech writing, teaching, engineering, science, Design, R&D, and management. I never would have had all these opportunities if I was not privileged but if I was too privileged I would have been able to skip a lot of the less fun and hard stuff.
As a young adult I would work, have sports and sometimes night time band practice on the same days while attending a full day of classes. I got up a 4 or 5 am and was in bed by 9 or 10 pm. Sometimes my grades suffered a little but I was always over a 3.0 GPA.
I think we confuse, Diversity, Affirmative Action, Team Excellence, and treat them too similarly. A Black Girl and a White Girl from Santa Barbara are going to be more alike than White Boy from Massachusetts and a White Boy from Georgia. You have to judge Diversity based on a lot more than Skin Color or Gender or Religion or National Origin……..Yes, if the team is 90% White Male American descendants of Christians it definitely lacks diversity even if they are all from different backgrounds, still a lot of backgrounds are not included.
Affirmative Action comes in to flavors, recruiting and hiring. The former is the most important both as it supports the social justice goals and the diversity goals. You need to recruit from as diverse pool as possible. Lets not dissemble Affirmative Action is a Social Justice practice first and foremost. It is Anti-Privilege. In hiring much care must be taken to not create a perverse situation where you hire people who were not privileged and set them up for poor performance because they were not properly prepared for the challenges. Preferring the disadvantaged over the privileged you much be sure that you select disadvantaged with sufficient competency. You don’t always have to select the best candidate but you much always select an adequate candidate and if you deliberately select a candidate with a weakness you need to be prepared to mitigate that weakness. If you can’t find a qualified candidate then pick the one from a privileged background so the black mark you will create on his record will be less of a burden. There is always going to be a weak link in the chain, try to not make that weak link someone with a disadvantaged background.
Team Excellence does not depend on Diversity. Teams can be help or hurt by Diversity. A team of roughnecks working an oil rig can benefit from conformity and familiarity. Diversity on this kind of team can lead to conflict and unpredictable reactions in emergencies and miscommunication in hazardous environments. In a product lifecycle Diversity in most important in the early phases and becomes less important later in the cycle until it eventually becomes a liability.