That game goes both ways. I was constantly involved in the hiring process for degreed engineers of all types. Dozens and Dozens and Dozens.
Whenever ANYONE even suggested that I give preference solely because of diversity, I responded "Sure! All you have to do is to give me that directive in writing." In case one thinks I was prejudiced and looking for a defense, I can honestly say my unit was the most diverse of the whole organization that I knew of. The difference was that I didn't accept incompetence because of diversity. Everyone I hired was well-qualified.
About a million years ago, I managed the IT field team for a medium-sized organization. There were three of us in the division, overseeing 70-80 people. All colors, from all over the world. Gay/Straight, both bathrooms, etc etc etc.
A fairly prominent IT publication (that will remain nameless, since they're still around) asked to interview us managers. We were all fairly young, naive, and full of ourselves, and gladly said "Yes!", thinking - hey, here's our chance to show off how great we are - approximately.
Interviewer and Photog come by. We all sit down in the conference room. First question out of the interviewer's mouth..... "Please talk about the program that you used to achieve such fantastic diversity in your IT division".
We three looked at each other. There wasn't a program, we just hired the best people as they came in the door. And, we said approximately that.
End of interview, right there, on the spot. "Thank you very much, we'll be in touch." It was an eye-opener for me as a young, up-and-coming IT engineer.
Reminds me of a group I worked with about 20 years ago. We had at least 4 or 5 nationalities and 3 or 4 religions represented. Everyone got along great, and I don't recall anyone telling the manager that he had to hire "diverse" candidates. As you said, he hired the most qualified people regardless of personal background. Our motto was "we were diverse before diverse was cool"
We were organizing a group Christmas party and trying to come up with a theme. We settled on "Holiday foods you grew up with", which turned out to be the best party I ever attended. Sadly, our manager passed on the following spring due to AIDS (this was long before any of the current crop of sustaining drugs hit the market) and the group began to disband as people took new positions within the company or just left.
A few of us still carry on the tradition, incorporating our new co-workers into the mix. I am greatly looking forward to this year's mix of ethnic foods and stories of growing up in different countries and cultures.