SOMEONE I know who used to work in HR for a major European construction company was telling me the other day how the company would handle promotions. It may not surprise you to learn that it wasn’t by application and it wasn’t by merit. He says that the HR department prepared profile cards on each member of staff and organised them according to sex, ethnicity and sexuality. The bosses would use the cards to select people for promotion based solely on these characteristics. Many sub-par people were promoted this way and many good people were passed over. But that didn’t deter the bosses because they cared more about appearance and ticking the right diversity boxes than about respecting fairness and ensuring competence.
This was standard practice at the company and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was standard practice across the corporate world these days, with all the obsession there is with diversity. How else are they going to meet the equality targets demanded by the Government? Blatant discrimination (however ‘positive’ it might be deemed) is illegal in this country, of course, as it is in most countries, but is that stopping companies from engaging in it behind closed doors, particularly with the inherent contradictions between what is and is not permitted under ‘positive action’?
It was gratifying to see last month a straight white man who had been turned down by the openly discriminatory recruiting practices of a UK police force winning his tribunal case against them. But the truth is that after more than five decades of political correctness, the problem is endemic in our public and corporate culture. In a world where the BBC can openly advertise that it intends to appoint a woman to replace an outgoing editor, it will take more than one successful tribunal to turn the tide. In the United States (where it leads we tend to follow) those in charge of the Oscars have started handing out the gongs based on diversity box-ticking (though I wouldn’t go so far as to claim the Academy Awards were ever a merit-based enterprise).
We are all losers from this double-speak about discrimination. But the statistics indicate that those most at the receiving end of the new diversity discrimination are straight white men – who are at the bottom of the Left’s intersectional pile of victimhood. Though women today outperform men in education and outnumber them in training for many professions such as medicine and law, demands for the prioritisation for boardroom promotion of the fair sex and and for more business investment in them regardless of their choices, continue apace. You could call it patronising.
Merit is multidimensional, and while different skills may be associated with different groups, nothing is fixed. Only the Left’s diversity and victim narrative, so obsessed with latent as well as manifest discrimination on selective identity grounds, is set in stone. It leaves no room for the discriminating mind, for individual judgment or for the pool of talent available when it comes to assessing ability, aptitude or character.
This modern obeisance to diversity is at the expense of common sense, fairness, and respect for ordinary people, their choices and their views. It leaves us with an identity-based patronage little better (in some cases worse) than old-fashioned nepotism; symptomatic of a culture that has lost its confidence in itself and lost its mind. We need a new way of thinking which treats merit and fairness as sacred, disdains neither individual choice or judgment and leaves the path to work and success open to the ordinary bloke in the street.