We live in an increasingly diverse society. The differences between individuals and groups are becoming increasingly more numerous. Those differences extend beyond simplistic notions of gender, age and ethnicity. Diversity also encompasses sexual orientation, personality, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
From diversity can come strength but only when as a society we recognise it, value it and learn how to accommodate and harness it. Trouble is we’re not very good at this.
A recent study (“State of the Nation”, Social Mobility Commission, 2017) found that sections of our community are losing out and falling behind and our country’s professions are unrepresentative of the public they serve. Worse is the suggestion that there exists a weary sense of inevitability about our powerlessness to change this situation.
Policy at Government and corporate level is often proposed as the answer. While important these initiatives are sometimes short-lived and can only ever be part of the answer. Prevailing cultural norms and attitudes are much slower to change and transcend generations. They act on all sections of community setting the rules for who can do what and we should behave, think and act. They act on all of us and limit all of us – at least in that fact there is equality.
Initiatives must be sufficiently long-lasting, far sighted and have scale. Different agencies must pool their experience and we – as individuals – must be prepared to think differently and be prepared to change.
I look forward to a wide ranging discussion at the Gatwick Diamond Skills Summit where these topics might be debated and, in some small way, we start to imagine a new more liberating cultural norm. Steve Sawyer, Executive Director, Manor Royal Business Improvement District.