In today’s highlights of equality and diversity news – Labour moots quotas for women and ethnic minorities on boards, Dame Alison Carnwath calls on companies to offer longer breaks for child rearing to retain talent and has bureaucratisation of equalities resulted in white-washed racism?
The shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, has said that a Labour government could introduce quotas for women and ethnic minorities to address inequalities within boardrooms. He added, “It is clear there is a pipeline of women and ethnic minority candidates, achieving the highest qualifications, who are available for the top jobs and merit appointment, but not nearly enough of them make it through.” Helena Morissey, founder of the 30% Club, commented that such quotas were unnecessary and disappointing. She said: “…to appoint women on anything other than merit creates only an optical solution and will never facilitate meaningful and sustainable change.” Helena thinks that the onus should be on companies rather than the government to recognise the importance of diversity.
Dame Alison Carnwath, the only female chair in the FTSE 100, has called on companies to hold on to and support their female talent through child-rearing: “If you want to spend, say, six years having children and getting them off to school before you come back and do full-time work, [companies] have to look upon it as not wanting to lose somebody.” Offering a break of up to six years to employees is a radical idea and one that would need other arrangements to be put in place.
In its Academics Anonymous series, the Guardian have published an article by an academic on how their university just pays lip service to equality and diversity. Discussing discrimination faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) staff, the writer comments that the glossy side of equality and diversity – BME staff images on the website, mention in the annual report – is only bureaucratisation of equalities, adding that “several BME colleagues have commented on how the equality and diversity agenda has forced racism to take on more subtle forms.” The writer argues that if equality and diversity were a real concern, universities would be expounding these values at an ideological level.
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