Forget Brexit or post-truth politics, if there’s one buzzword that’s come to define 2016 it’s “diversity”. Or rather, the lack of it – especially in plum jobs like the movies, publishing, the City, media and government.
In 2016, the liberal intelligentsia decided: “this privileged world is too male, pale and stale – and it’s time to barrack it into change”.
In January we had #OscarsSoWhite, when Hollywood’s shortlist didn’t contain a single actor of colour. Hot on its heels was #BAFTAsSoWhite as Idris Elba was the only black person in its top 20. It seemed the only awards that didn’t get the #SoWhite treatment were the MOBOs.
In the UK, equalities committees focused on the plights of women and minorities, and even pushed for gender-neutral passports as ministers deemed it “”ery distressing” for transgender people to put their birth sex on a form. They are currently focusing on the oppressed gypsy and Roma communities.
Tellingly, they’ve yet to address one of the UK’s most glaring inequalities: for years now, white, working class boys have been education’s lowest attainers. Sadly, these lost souls (20 years ago I’d have been one of them) don’t fit the diversity script. Too white, too male? Too bad.
White people, especially men, are constantly told by politicians and the MSM their time is up. They’ve had it too good for too long, even those broken white men dying ever younger in America’s Rust Belt, or those festering on benefits in the North of England.
All of which invites the question: “if you don’t care about me, why should I care about what you care about?”
These communities responded by voting Brexit and Trump, which, of course, only led to fresh calls for diversity, as it “proved” the Western world was deeply racist (for wanting increased controls on migration) and sexist (for rejecting Hillary).
Herein lies the diversity project’s biggest dichotomy: it doesn’t feel inclusive.
“Agree with us, white folk, or you’re racist! Surrender your power, men, or you’re sexist!” will never in a trillion years lead to productive change. It’s actively exclusive – and creates further, deeper divide.
At present, the great diversity project is all stick and no carrot.
This week, we’ve been told the Football Association is “too male and too white” by five white, male former FA chiefs, including former chairman (and staunch white man) Greg Dyke, who previously ran the BBC, which he also called “hideously white”.
Ah, the BBC. In May, Auntie found itself under fire when it emerged it was hiring paid interns only from “Black, Asian and non-white minority ethnic backgrounds”. Widespread, front-page outrage ensued.
Earlier this week, the company behind this scheme, Creative Access, lost £2m government funding, hinting that the government is going cold on these divisive diversity drives.
That didn’t deter the BBC, which last week again advertised for TV professionals only from disabled, black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds:
The BBC are hiring again, but it doesn't look like white folk can apply? pic.twitter.com/dVA2HJ7Qqk
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) December 7, 2016
Also this week we faced the preposterous proposition that in order for movies to get a BAFTA Award, they must pass a diversity checklist. Under this regime, James Bond movies would be deemed “too white and elitist”.
Recently, I’ve been speaking at a few corporate events as something of a “token bloke”/agent provocateur on the topic of diversity.
Forget glass ceilings: I’ve heard about “glass walls” invisibly blocking women from power they can see, yet cannot touch. This struck me as ironic, as beyond the real-life glass wall of the swish West End office where we spoke, a group of shivering homeless men listlessly drank themselves into oblivion.
So I talked of men locked in “glass cellars” – the homeless, prisoners, addicts, those in dangerous and dirty jobs nobody else wants. In their own quest for more women at the top, my audience hadn’t really thought of men stuck at the bottom.
If, like Sweden, we paid men a £3,000 a month to be stay-at-home dads, we’d be willing partners in gender equality. If the government focused on the needs of white, working class communities too, they might not balk so at diversity hires which exclude them.
A diverse society is a healthy one. But for that to flourish, we all need to be invited, and enticed – not hectored and bullied – into action. For that to happen, we must accept that diversity isn’t just skin deep.
That will require the greatest diversity of all: diversity of thought. In all their enlightenment, do the intelligentsia have that in them?