Has our quest to demonstrate diversity gone too far?

Has our quest to demonstrate diversity gone too far?

The FA has been embroiled in considerable controversy over recent weeks, with questions raised over the organisation’s practices. The former England women’s football manager, Mark Sampson, has been at the heart of much of this controversy, after allegations of racism were made against him.

Last week however, the spotlight shifted towards the FA’s Chief Executive, Martin Glenn. In defending the investigation into Sampson, Glenn publicly stated that he deliberately selected a black woman to conduct the investigation.

Darren Maw, Managing Director of Vista, says “this revelation demonstrates the dangers in symbolic diversity, i.e. seeking to demonstrate diversity through making specific decisions, however well intended they may be.

“To become an organisation which is committed to diversity and inclusion, and the tangible advantages this brings, it is necessary to reach for substance rather than form. The diversity and inclusion agenda is advanced by embedding the following three important facets:

  1. Appropriate rules must prohibit discrimination, e.g. choosing a supplier because of gender or race
  2. To make decisions objectively, identify the best person for the job or contract, irrespective of their gender, social or ethnic group
  3. Behave in a way that is conducive to valuing people for the real work benefits they bring

However, Maw adds, this is not a quick fix, and it is perhaps understandable that the FA, in an attempt to turn the tide on its damaging press coverage, would seek to demonstrate its commitment to diversity.

Last week, it emerged that an Amazon Web Services recruiter sent an email to a woman with “Diversity HIRE” in the subject line. The email, which was shared online, was to encourage a female to apply for a software engineering position – The Register reports.

Marilyn Loden, an Author and diversity consultant, told The Register that the recruiter’s email was a poor way to approach diversity. "You don't put people in a category that is going to put them at a disadvantage," she said. "The way to integrate groups that are disadvantaged is not to call attention to them."

She adds that this method feeds into a feeling, shared by many female tech candidates, that they’re only being hired because of gender. "That just makes everyone in the organisation angry and encourages the perception that this is not a merit-based hire," she said.

Whilst diversity is important and organisations must take considerable steps to be representative, actively looking for candidates to fit quotas won’t tackle the issue.

As Simon Altham, Managing Director, Wyndam Vacation Rentals UK, whose brands include Hoseasons, tells us, “diversity is no box-ticking exercise.”

Altham, who is now an ambassador for diversity and inclusion across the workplace, says the best way to achieve this is by balancing internal communication with employee training, alongside work with external organisations. He explained: “Some companies can see diversity, particularly when it comes to new hiring, as a ‘box-ticking exercise’. There’s a big difference between making one inclusive hire, and creating a comprehensive culture of diversity.”

As part of his strategy, Simon is committed to ensuring that everyone, from the Board room down to brand new hires, feels valued and can learn from other people’s priorities and experiences. 

Comments (1)

  • Lorena
    Wed, 1 Nov 2017 4:32pm GMT
    What makes this so challenging is that people of color and women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring. White people and men have more opportunities, therefore have more experience and in turn are more qualified. So, without calling for a "diversity hire," how do hiring managers effectively employ practices that will promote diversity? Unfortunately, when you are from a marginalized community, your identity will always play a role in your hiring.