People talk a lot these days about "Equality and Diversity". The expression just trips off the tongue. But does that pairing obscure what the two words mean individually, and how do the two relate?
In this item I explain that Equality and Diversity are not the "Ant and Dec" of law and social inclusion -- distinguished only by the order in which they stand. They're different concepts, allbeit co-related ones.
You can read the transcript of this item in the accompanying Blog.
Christine, An excellent article!
What always worries me is that organisations say they are committed to equality and diversity, but that committment always seems to start at the bottom not the top. I think we ought to be encouraging organisations to start at the top – ie at board level.
I was talking to a young lawyer the other day who was the partner of a city firm. He said that his role was equality and diversity and that he was one of the managing partners. I asked him how diverse the board of managing partners was and he had to admit that it was not very diverse. The excuse is always the same. It takes time! “Why”, I asked, “could you not consider bringing a few people onto the board who perhaps worked at lower levels in the organisation, but who might be able to widen the diversity as well as the outlook of the board?” I suggested that the receptionist probably know more about his clients than he did and that even the cleaner probably knew who worked the longest hours!
It was a bit of a cheeky suggestion and he scurried away to talk to somebody else – but on reflection I still thought to myself; “Wwhy not. How different would some organisations be if the management decisions of these organisations was informed by a more diverse group of employees?”
When I worked for Birmingham’s Single Regeneration Budget (SRB)regeneration in Saltley and Small Heath there was a group of local worthies who ran the SRB board. This is an area with a high proportion of South Asian origin and as you would expect the South Asian community was well represented on the board. Alongside this board they had set up a junior board, consisting of kids from the local secondary schools. I often thought that their ideas were more perceptive than those of their elders. Of course the junior board was actually far more diverse, having an equal number of young boys and girls and a wider ethnic mix! The senior board tended to divide opinion along ethnic lines and I felt that discussions often became polarised and a bit uncomfortable. The junior board had none of these hang-ups! What a delight it would have been if the two boards had been combined!