Thursday 25 June 2009

Valuing Diversity part 2

One of the issues that we discussed at this weeks staff meeting was complying with our QAF in relation to diversity and inclusion. Tessa, our manager, was quite concerned that we are currently not demonstrating a high enough standard of compliance with this QAF. In particular, she highlighted the fact that our project rarely has any people from an ethnic minority background. This is due to the fact that when we do have someone from an ethnic background they tend to work hard, save their money and then move in to private accommodation as soon as they can. This is after all our ostensible goal, to support young people in to independent living. Perhaps we should ask them to stay so that we can comply with our QAF re how many people with tans or who are practising Zoroastrians are residing with us?

Anyway, I had a pretty surreal conversation with Tessa which reveals how well intentioned policies can often degenerate into a farce.

“Well guys, I’ve been looking at our QAF in relation to diversity and we really need to be able to demonstrate more that we can do to ensure that ethnic minorities have fair access to our service. The local ethnic minority population is about two percent, but we don’t consistently have two percent of our residents coming from an ethnic minority background. We need to be able to explain why this is the case and evidence that we have tried to turn this around,” states Tessa.

“First of all, if our target is two percent then we only need to have 1.2 of our residents consistently coming from an ethnic background. Tariq will suffice as one whole ethnic person, and Zara’s granddad was a Hungarian Jewish refugee during the war so that might make up the 0.2 percent we need, as she is partially a foreigner,” I quip facetiously. “However,” I continue, “perhaps the reason, we never get that many ethnic minority applications is that the few ethnic groups we have living in the community are still quite bound by familial obligations and would never dream of offloading their offspring on to the burden of the state, I may be wrong, but it’s just a thought.”

Tessa, isn’t too pleased with my irreverent tone. I hate all this QAF stuff. It patronises the very people it purports to want to help.

“Anyway, we need to get in touch with various ethnic community groups and provide them with the information about our service. We need to document and record the contact with these organisations as evidence that we are trying to promote fair access for all in the community. I really want us to consistently reflect the ethnic diversity as well as the gender make up of the community,” states Tessa.

This gets me thinking, how in the hell are we to contrive reflecting the ethnic makeup of the community within our project? Are we to descend upon the local Indian restaurants in the evening with brochures promoting our project and asking the owner to consider sending some of his children to live with us when they turn sixteen in order to prove that our organisation isn’t secretly run by Nick Griffin?

Many ethnic minority groups in the UK today are from traditional and religiously conservative backgrounds which can produce a whole load of other social pathologies. However, to their credit, they see the family and not the state as the central unit of society.

Do you think they would want to see their young living in a project with rampant drug and alcohol abuse, abortion as a form of contraception, high rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs, domestic violence, inertia and criminal activity? Somehow, I think a place like our project is the last place many families would want to see their young living in whether from an ethnic minority or not.

If I were from an ethnic minority background I would wear it as a badge of honour that my community were not availing of such a service to the extent of the indigenous underclass, if any thing it would be a mark of integrity to have nothing to do with our project rather than an indication of being discriminated against.


Boy on a bike said...

Most immigrants move to a new country for economic advancement. They're not going to find that sitting on their bums.

The line Tessa is pushing reinforces the worst stereotypes promoted by the likes of the BNP - that migrants only move to western countries to leech of their social welfare systems. Tell her that her approach will promote racial disharmony and see how she reacts.

Chris Gilmour said...

Rather than trying to up the ethnic minority percentage using your service, can you no try decrease the whitey majority percentage?

RickB said...

This is the problem when Government makes sweeping announcments on subjects they don't know much about, mack assumptions and then try and back them up with statistics.

Follow that up with weak, target culture management (which the senior managers like), and you have this type of rediculous situation.

The sooner we start having the social welfare system as a safety net, and stop it being a trawler net the better.

Hibbo said...

No no no!

You just don't get it do you Winston? "Diversity" must be forced upon all people, whether they want it or not. I think it's just typical of these foreigners, they come over here, but will they help your fine institution reach its QAF? Will they fook!

Yourself and the above commenter are spot on; most immigrants come here to graft and make a better fist of things for themselves and their families.

Do people like Tessa really think that not having an exact cross-section of society in every possible situation = RACISM

Hogdayafternoon said...

This post mirrored the same arguments I was having with my old boss 10 years ago in respect of the lack of `take up` of services on offer. Our area had very similar minority ethnic demographics to those figures you cited. Off I went on my own study. My findings were precisely as per your assertions. In fact the people I found, who were willing to talk, showed a sense of family/community `closeness` that put that of the `white Anglo Saxon` majority to shame. Not empirically sound, as I'm sure your manager would argue, but good anecdotal evidence has a more valid voice (IMO).

Anonymous said...

Your manager it seems, is reading the issue backwards.

"We have a disproportionate ethnic makeup in our project."


"We must recruit more members from the ethnic minorities within the community."

Err, no! That is reading the issue backwards, and is simply self-preservation!

The imminent question should be (as you point out):

"WHY are members of the project predominantly/exclusively white?"

Once this question has been satisfactorally answered, the next question should be:

"What does this new evidence say about the future development of the project?"

If it is an issue of poor advertising to certain sub-sets of the community, then fine! But that assumption cannot be taken for granted!

Assuming for the moment that your suspicions are right, it opens up a much more pertinent question as to why ethnic minority taxpayers should have to contribute to a project that they don't need, and probably don't want anything to do with!