Reading this article challenged me on a lot of my methods of arguing on behalf of diversity.
You can count on Hanna Naima McCloskey to check you on your thinking. She founded Fearless Futures in 2014 and having been to a couple of their workshops, I can recommend them as next-level diversity experts, not interested in shallow solutions or the psychological comforts of the privileged – their work is challenging and deep.
The article forces us to reconsider the dehumanising effects of the business case for diversity, including:
- Why are we doing this? Why do we feel the need to make a business case for the inclusion of people of colour, women, neurodivergent people, disabled people, but we don't need to make the business case for white men? Are they beyond the concept of review? Is the establishment really such a smashing success that it doesn't need any challenge?
- Who benefits? When consultancies churn out business reports that show how diversity at the top creates more profits for business, they fail to give us detail on who gains from that. Top level corporate profits are not shared equally around the business. So are we asking people who are already 'minoritised' to come in to an environment and over-contribute (probably at the expense of their emotional energy) in order to create wealth at the top of a pyramid still dominated by the same old guard?
- Why doesn't it work the other way around? You don't hear people making the argument as to why more white people aren't working as cleaners, security or carers. I've never been given this brief, nor asked for help with the business case for this. The closest I've seen, perhaps, is a request that 'we need more men in retail roles' with a view to addressing gender pay gap issues. So if we are that convinced that diversity equals success, why aren't we seeking it in all places?
I think that the answers to these questions lead us to uncomfortable realisations.
I'm going to put my hand up: I literally have a presentation called 'The Business Case for Diversity' that was designed to help my clients when they need to pitch for budget to carry out activity designed to help them be more inclusive. But after reading this article (link below, really is an essential 7-minute read) I am going to have to retire that deck and try harder.
The business case maintains dangerous logics about marginalised people. When inclusion must be about unconditionally restoring people’s humanity because it was stripped of them, we cannot do it in dehumanising ways.