Diversity, policies and business

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Have you seen our diversity policy?
Have you seen our diversity policy?

HOME — This topic has always made me nervous. I remember reading a long article in a coffee-table magazine in the early 1990’s about a big corporation that was making sizable pay-outs to employees over ‘diversity training’ that had gone wrong.

I seem to remember that they had chosen someone in a workshop, who they thought might not understand what it was to be treated ‘differently’ and subjected him to abuse of all sorts. He’d not taken it well and never returned to work.

I know that’s no reason to shy away from these things. But I think the process has had to be rethought.

Over the past few weeks, my colleague EJ has been writing our new Diversity Policy. It’s been an interesting process. Not least because we keep breaking it. There are only a handful of us in the business so far, so there won’t be any court cases, but it has been sobering to see the extent to which our typical conversations do not fit within the rules.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not a bunch of rude, xenophobic bullies. We are a group of adults with a wry sense of humour.

We’ll have to change.

Today my 9-year-old pulled me aside on the way to see Mama Mia! I didn’t know much about the story, but agreed to take children aged 5, 9 and 11. The older two had seen it before.

“There is a part of this movie that might not be right for the 5-year-old,” the older child said.

Having now seen it, I know there is a woman with three fathers, a lot of sexual innuendo, one-night stands, unsuccessful marriages, people gyrating in speedos, half-clad old people… all the kind of stuff that grown-ups love, but kids might scratch their heads at.

“At the end,” the child explained, “there’s a guy who is gay!”

Clearly, even for the new generation, we have a way to go before we have a solid grasp of diversity.

/df



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