I have a confession to make. The subject of this column is something I first read about on the Daily Mail. I know – I feel sick, ashamed, like I can’t have enough showers – probably the same feeling that some of us get the morning after a particularly heavy night out. But if I use what I read on the world’s most popular forum for misogyny, hypocrisy and general twattiness and turn it into something totally different, that’s fine, right? ….Right?
The Paper That Shall Not Be Named recently posted an article about the fact that the Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund is offering up to £30,000 to schools that hire teachers who embody the incredibly patronisingly worded ‘protected characteristics’. This includes gay, transgender and ethnic minority teachers. I mean, not like this is possibly the one good thing the Conservative government has done for the minorities whose descent into poverty they’ve made much more likely, is it? It’s not like austerity policy has entrenched economic discrimination into the LGBT+ community, leading to closures of vital services, has it? Or, you know, exacerbated the problems of LGBT+ homelessness, isolation and limited access to support?
Let’s be realistic here. Who are we to think that maybe the right-wing newshounds thought fit to chuck society’s most marginalised groups a bone and admit that encouraging diversity in public sector professions is a positive, vital and all-round good thing to do? Instead, we have a select few quotes that make the case for the fact that this is actually discrimination in itself.
Hark! As we hear privileged white man, David Nuttall MP, decry the fund as ‘absolute nonsense’. Be amazed! As we hear another privileged white man called David, this time Civitas founder David Green, argue that the scheme is ‘profoundly misguided’! And lose faith! As we hear Shadow Education Secretary, privileged white woman Lucy Powell, worrying herself sick that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
This is all on the basis that there’s a possibility that recruitment on the basis of diversity could create bumps in the recruitment by meritocracy that clearly exists in our hierarchical, elitist, white, straight society. Are all these people honestly blind to the fact that discrimination at every strata of the job market has a detrimental effect towards LGBT+ and ethnic minority candidates? That the National Centre for Social Research has shown that candidates with ‘white’ names have to put in half the applications to get an interview?
Extensive research has shown that quotas to improve diversity, whilst not ideal, do have a positive impact on increasing the likelihood of allowing those with ‘protected characteristics’ (vomit) into higher echelons of the public sphere. If the privileged straight white critics of this kind of scheme can’t see that they are advantaged by an inherent bias enough to make quotas the very first step to some kind of equality of opportunity, then maybe they haven’t got the brains for the job in the first place?