I’m pro-diversity, but I’m sick of hearing about it.
We’re told that women, ethnic minorities, those living with disabilities, and many others, are underrepresented and get the worst deal in the workplace. Yet the issue has been raised so many times that the message is fading.
With the debate about underrepresentation feeling endless, the need for change remains as vital as ever, but do the arguments need refreshing? Is it time that media found a new way to bolster the cause?
I asked our BlueSky opinion panel if it was time to press the reset button. Here are their thoughts –
Rochelle Gayle: “The media definitely need a new angle when it comes to diversity, but it’s been covered so often, and in so many ways, that’s going to be a huge challenge to discuss it in a way that really rouses people’s interest.
“Having said this, I don’t want to stop seeing these topics being covered by the media because it’s important to inspire change.”
Ian Hawkings: “The message is in danger of becoming boring. It’s clearly a big issue, but it’s rammed down our throats so much that I, for one, am tired of it.
“I’m not really sure what the media can do – their job is to reflect what’s going on in business and society, rather than to lead the call for change, which has to come from institutions and individuals. Perhaps if we actually came up with a novel way to address the issue, we’d get some more interesting news out of it!”
Natalie Bishop: “We’d all rather have the tedious news reports than see the issue being ignored.
“However, the tendency to cover these topics extensively without offering comment on how development can occur – other than a blanket “it’s time for change” conclusion – is just eroding the urgency of the matter.
“Without anything to add to the conversation, these articles merely excavate a long-dead topic from its shallow grave; it needs progress, not just coverage, to survive.”
Tracey Barrett: “There could be a different tack in term of looking at global skill shortages – and linking that to untapped talent pools. So often we hear that there is massive shortage of skills sets in particular sectors and yet many major companies still hire the same sorts of people from the same sorts of backgrounds and then pat themselves on the back for the odd bit of tokenism. What’s the business case for hiring a woman, an ethnic minority, a disabled person? The same business case as it is for hiring anyone – some of them can do the job! Diversity is about common business sense!”
Alexandra Dobocan: “I am not bored of hearing about diversity, nor do I think the media should find a new way of covering it. It’s just a matter of time, rather than method, and I think the debate should go on.
“Women’s suffrage in the West was established over the course of several decades. You knew the protests and all those years of lobbying were a success when every single woman could vote. We should look at things in perspective and bear with the topic of diversity.”
Bruce Callander: “There’s too much talk about improving diversity in the media. The message is becoming diluted, which isn’t good, and the press need to find alternative ways to report on the inequality, although I did think the idea of showing how many days women work for free when compared to men is a good way of highlighting in gender terms at least.”
Carly Smith: “The fact remains that women, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities get a rough deal in the workplace. The figures speak for themselves; females account for just 23% of total board directors in the UK, just 4.1% of MPs and non-white, a mere five FTSE 100 companies are headed by women, and 46% of working age disabled people are in employment compared to 76% of working age non-disabled people.
“Although there is no doubt that the media has immense influence on public opinion, until we determine the root cause of this inequality, we can’t successfully address the issue.
“As long as there are people who feel strongly about a lack of diversity – whether that be in business, on boards, in parliament or on the silver screen – it will be covered by the press. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.”
Kerry Gill: “I’m not bored of diversity. I don’t disagree with those articles which despair the state of the modern workplace, the lack of women on boards, etc. What I am bored of is hearing the same story on diversity, and I’m sure many journalists are sick of having to write them. Many of these articles raise the same issue time and again in the same way – but there is no call to action to offer, no solutions suggested or anything that can move the conversation forward.
“Of course, the ability to write something fresh depends on more than a journalist’s skill but on some progress actually happening in industries, in governments and societies, but let’s not forget that it’s often the power of the media that can bring about social change. Though there may not always be something new to say, it’s important that people keep on saying it.”
Perhaps the silent eyerolling over diversity needs to stop.
Today’s noise needs to develop into rolling thunder and progress towards balanced representation with bolts of lightning from threatening clouds. Then it won’t be a burden, the ground will shake, and the issue of diversity will excite me once again.