I picked up a copy of the London Evening Standard and got the distinct impression that we are entering an important time for promoting diversity. There’s a good chance I’m biased about this, I spend a lot of time thinking about how the workplace needs to be fairer to people who don’t fit traditional stereotypes.
It’s like if you buy a red car, you suddenly notice all the other red cars on the road.
Admittedly, in the past week I’ve been in contact with several high profile organisations including professional service firms that are interested in the mission of this blog. It was the combination of this renewed interest and what I read in the London Evening Standard that made me think that things may be changing.
I don’t know if the London Evening Standard has a pro diversity agenda, but I read three separate articles in the same issue that directly addressed matters of diversity. I was pleasantly surprised to see that news stories appear to be moving into the mainstream and therefore getting the attention they deserve. These are the articles I read; you’ll notice they covered business and the arts.
A historic breakthrough was made when Glencore, a Swiss based mining company appointed it’s first female director. This a big deal because Glencore had the last all male board in the FTSE 100 group of leading companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
There may be a number of reasons for this appointment, perhaps Glencore is committed to diversity, perhaps they didn’t want to be isolated as a company with out dated ideas about leadership, perhaps they wanted to do their bit to avoid UK companies being regulated like our neighbours in Scandinavia. Whatever the reason, this should be celebrated as positive outcome.
British Arab Actor Nabil Elouahabi hit out at the stereotyping of Arabs as terrorists in films and television. He’s best known to British audiences as Gary from Only Fools and Horses and he has also appeared in Eastenders and 24. If you look at his imdb profile it’s hard to ignore what he’s saying. He’s decided to take matters into his own hands by taking on a role that has several dimensions to the character and addresses issues of identity.
In a similar story, actor Danny Lee Wynter describes how prospects for minority ethnic actors have been getting worse. This echoes the thoughts of Lenny Henry whose speech to BAFTA showed that the percentage of minority ethnic individuals working in the UK TV industry was in decline despite an increase in the minority ethnic population. In response to these circumstances Lee Wynter has founded The Act for Change Project. A pressure group whose mission is to examine diversity in British TV drama, and to communicate to the unrepresented television viewer that a future in TV drama exists with them firmly in it.
The last two stories in particular are examples of how things don’t just change by themselves; it takes committed individuals to make a difference. There’s a lot more work to do but these stories are a step in the right direction.
Their appearance as part of the normal news in a mainstream paper may be an indication that it’s ok to talk about these things. Part of the problem is that people are afraid of the courageous conversations that are required to move forward. The more acceptable it is for us to talk about it, the faster we can all find a solution to get to our destination.
Have you seen any interesting stories concerning diversity? Please share your thoughts in the comments below