Di­ver­sity more than buzz word

Whanganui Midweek - - HOME & GARDEN - With Peter Hall

Noun: the con­di­tion of hav­ing or be­ing com­posed of dif­fer­ing el­e­ments, es­pe­cially the dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple such as peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races or cul­tures in a group or or­gan­i­sa­tion.

A def­i­ni­tion is all very good but when it comes to ap­ply­ing that def­i­ni­tion the prob­lems arise and ac­cep­tance can de­pend to­tally on the per­sons af­fected by any de­ci­sion.

Part of the ques­tion that arises is when and where do we en­sure that there is di­ver­sity. Should it be based on the per­cent­age of per­sons in­volved and if so, how does equal­ity arise in mak­ing such a de­ci­sion?

Let us look at the work­force for a “hy­po­thet­i­cal busi­ness”.

With an owner, a CEO, a board of di­rec­tors num­ber­ing seven, three man­agers, and a work­force of 88, how does the com­pany go about en­sur­ing di­ver­sity? If the com­mu­nity it is based in has 55 per cent pur­ple folks, 25 per cent green folks, 15 per cent blue folks and 5 per cent orange folks then should the board of di­rec­tors and the work­force re­flect those per­cent­ages? And of those folks should their gen­ders be con­sid­ered and their re­li­gious be­liefs also? If there are 50 per cent of Gen­der A, 35 per cent of Gen­der B, 13 per cent of Gen­der C, and 2 per cent of Gen­der D in the com­mu­nity, how does that be­come re­flected in the work force of the com­pany.

And age — let us not dis­crim­i­nate there, and if, of the full com­mu­nity 65 per cent are of one reli­gion, how does the em­ployer bal­ance that with the dif­fer­ent coloured folks in the work­force — and with the ages — and with the gen­der? These are the type of sit­u­a­tions, how­ever hy­po­thet­i­cal, be­ing dis­cussed in all as­pects of so­ci­ety nowa­days.

The buzz words are def­i­nitely di­ver­sity and equal­ity and, for the mo­ment, at least in North Amer­ica po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is a term not be­ing tossed around, though it is in­her­ent in all dis­cus­sions.


Ac­cord­ing to An­drea Man­dell, jour­nal­ist for USA To­day, the need for di­ver­sity and equal­ity are no fur­ther along than they were 10 years ago in terms of in­clud­ing women and un­der­rep­re­sented groups such as peo­ple of colour, the LGBT com­mu­nity or peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, de­spite all the ac­tivism and con­ver­sa­tion.

A study comb­ing though the past decade’s top-gross­ing films found that out of 48,757 char­ac­ters in 1100 films from 2007 to 2017, just 30 per cent were filled with speak­ing roles filled by women while in the top 100 movies of 2017 only 29.3 per cent of char­ac­ters were from un­der­rep­re­sented racial-eth­nic groups and 2.5 per cent were char­ac­ters with dis­abil­i­ties. The study also found be­hind the cam­era out of 1100 films ex­am­ined just four had black or African-Amer­i­can fe­male di­rec­tors, three had Asian fe­male di­rec­tors and only one had a Latina di­rec­tor.


A few years ago some of the Na­tional Foot­ball play­ers be­gan demon­strat­ing against so­cial in­jus­tice, racial inequal­ity and sys­tem­atic op­pres­sion. Colin Kaeper­nick, who was quar­ter­back for the San Fran­cisco team, knelt dur­ing the Amer­i­can na­tional an­them and then other play­ers across the grid­iron league be­gan kneel­ing and lock­ing arms to sup­port the protest.

The re­sult has been that the foot­ball league has made a pariah of Kaeper­nick as while he is a top quar­ter-back he has been de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to play the game.

To be anti-the-flag is to be anti-Amer­i­can is the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the foot­ball league and the ‘big’ guy in Wash­ing­ton.

The US flag is raised at ev­ery sport­ing event from a kin­der­garten swim meet where the crowd and swim­mers face the flag and sing the na­tional an­them through to the pro­fes­sional leagues of ev­ery sport.

So to use it as a form of protest gets most pro­pa­gan­dised Amer­i­cans very up­set.

Kaeper­nick is fol­low­ing the path of such so­cial war­riors as Muham­mad Ali — who was stripped of his heavy­weight ti­tle and barred from the ring for three years and Tom­mie Smith and John Car­los who de­fi­antly stood with their fists in the air on the medal podium at the 1968 Mex­ico City Olympics.

The lat­est step in the protest move­ment — Kaeper­nick is su­ing the foot­ball league for deny­ing him the right to play and for the own­ers co­erc­ing to keep him out of the game.

While protests still con­tinue at foot­ball games and the foot­ball league is un­der pres­sure from the ‘big guy’ to throw such pro­test­ers off the team the prob­lem, as shown by one team was “one player goes, we all go!”

It may turn out to be a water­shed mo­ment for those who suf­fer from racial inequal­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion and the gen­eral lack of di­ver­sity across the Ewe Ess.

Colin Kaeper­nick, who knelt dur­ing the US na­tional an­them at an Amer­i­can foot­ball game in protest at black peo­ple be­ing shot by white po­lice of­fi­cers.

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