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Diversity, Discrimination and what's not fair

Read time: 3 minutes.

Code word

A friend volunteered to be nominated for election to a wider church body that they felt qualified to serve on but got the response that they were looking for diversity - and they were not it...

Diversity seems to be another one of these code words like ‘racist’ or ‘justice’ that in fashionable circles means something different to what it sounds like. Diversity seems to be code for -  anyone from a majority is not required.

Christian concept?

This is obviously profoundly not a Christian concept. Surely it's the content of our character, abilities and experience, our gifting, our SHAPE as Rick Warren would have it, that is important.

And this should be assessed against the topics to be decided. To do well an organisation needs a variety of people well-informed on the issues, who do not necessarily come to the same conclusions but at least can put forward the salient points. Any form of uninviting people based on immutable physical characteristics must surely be wrong.

It is also profoundly wrong-headed, as a variety of immutable characteristics does not mean a variety of views. One could argue that that is the whole point of this approach – that we exclude the opposing views by promoting groups that will vote like us. We are not interested in true diversity and shared decision-making but in narrow sets of people who think like us, or if they are not quite sure what to think on this or that topic unrelated to them, will support us as we are obviously on their side as we’re promoting them. This also has the benefit of excluding people who have thought about things and can provide a robust debate.

Where a particular subject requires facts on a certain ‘immutable group’ then a proper piece of research can be obtained. Just having a representative of that group present does not mean that they represent the views of the rest of the group – indeed often they do not and cannot.

Positive discrimination?

As an example of the related ‘positive discrimination’, another friend in the US was waiting to be allowed to enter a Trade federation which would mean he was better paid, as clients would assume he was more skilled, but the federation decided that other ethnic groups would be allowed in before him – even though he was more qualified. On the job he was having to teach them the work while being paid less. This is not good for anyone, least of all the person paying for the work. I suspect if the people setting this scheme up were asked what sort of surgeon they would like to operate on their child – the one appointed through positive-discrimination or the actually qualified one – there would be no question!

Equality of opportunity is one thing – equality of outcome is something else. We all have to learn the humility to recognise that others may have better gifts than us in different areas - and rejoice in that!

Of course it's also depressing for members of identifiable minorities who do put the work in and gain skills as they feel others perceive their achievements as fraudulent or devalued. In a parallel situation, every hard-working child who reads that their A Levels grades have been artificially inflated feels that they have been cheated, their concrete achievements rendered meaningless. It's disorientating and depressing, their future in doubt – what do I really know, am I any good? There are sadly some who are happy to see a community’s well-being reduced, to foment pain and unrest.

So promoters of ‘diversity’ may be just trying to be nice, but when pushed by untrustworthy actors they are actually promoting an uninformed homogeneity that in turn leads to divisiveness when the unwise decisions are unleashed on the excluded majority (!)