Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents -

Have you no­ticed how hushed every­one has sud­denly be­come? Have you no­ticed how peo­ple sud­denly stum­ble over their words a lit­tle more than they used to, clutch­ing for phrases that wound no one and yet mean noth­ing? I have. A friend of mine re­cently con­fided she no longer speaks up at din­ner par­ties for fear her po­lit­i­cal stance will not chime with those around her. An ex-col­league, mean­while, ex­plained how she had been pub­licly ‘shamed’ for not shar­ing the same fem­i­nist prin­ci­ples as oth­ers in her of­fice. Mul­ti­ple young women I know – smart, lib­eral, en­light­ened folk – have shut­tered their so­cial-me­dia ac­counts be­cause of the back­lash they have faced when their views do not match those of the masses. Given we live in one of the most pro­gres­sive times in his­tory, a time when di­ver­sity is right­fully be­ing forced to the top of agendas, isn’t it ironic that it has come to this? Be­cause let us not for­get, di­ver­sity is about much more than the colour of our skin and the class into which we were born. Di­ver­sity is not only a place where every­one looks and speaks dif­fer­ently; it’s a place where peo­ple should be able to think and feel dif­fer­ently with­out the threat of ver­bal ad­mon­ish­ment. I of­ten ask my team to dis­agree with me. In meet­ings I can get wildly car­ried away with an idea (I am acutely aware of their glazed expressions and smirks when this happens), and so rely on their di­ver­gent opin­ions to chal­lenge me. We don’t al­ways agree on things, that’s for sure. But then, that’s also kind of the point. Be­cause here’s the thing: we need di­verse thoughts. We need peo­ple who chal­lenge and, yes, oc­ca­sion­ally rat­tle us. Some of the great­est in­ven­tions and most mo­men­tous events in his­tory only came about by con­flict­ing ideas, thoughts and per­son­al­i­ties com­ing to­gether. It is now largely ac­cepted, for ex­am­ple, that part of Bri­tain’s suc­cess in de­feat­ing Nazi Ger­many was down to the con­flict be­tween Win­ston Churchill and his Chief of Staff, Alan Brooke. The two men had vastly dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to the war, and yet the ten­sion be­tween their op­pos­ing view­points is what cre­ated a win­ning re­sult. True di­ver­sity is not when every­one looks dif­fer­ent but thinks the same. Sure, that may lead to ini­tial change – but it doesn’t lead to long-last­ing progress. And surely that’s the one thing we all agree on. Keep in touch by fol­low­ing me on Twit­ter @Far­rah_S­torr and In­sta­gram @far­rah­storr

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