Diversify – June Sarpong
The one sentence summary: Take a more positive view of others and their differences: there is more power in unity than division.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
- The author is the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants who was born and raised in the East End of London and went on to become a TV presenter.
Genetically, human beings are 99.9% identical, and yet we choose to focus so much on the 0.1 per cent that makes us different.
- Biologically, ‘race’ simply doesn’t exist. It was the philosopher Immanuel Kant who classified people into fixed races according to skin colour, and the idea stuck.
- Our fear of the ‘other’ (whatever ‘other’ is for you) subconsciously influences our behaviour. Whether we like it or not, ‘other-izing’ is something we all do, and ‘other-isms’ are something we all have.
- Operating in a more inclusive way towards everyone is both good for people and commercial business. The book looks at:
The Other Man: disenfranchised males in society (black, Muslim and white working class). They experience aggrieved entitlementas society forgets them and react defensively or aggressively.
- The Other Woman: gender inequality exists in the workplace and media. Women make up only 16% of executive committees, and 8% of main PLC boards, while profit margins are almost double in companies with at least 25% females on their executive committees.
- Interestingly, women can discriminate against each other in a form of internalized misogyny.
- The Other Class: the economic gap between the elite and working classes is widening and causing despair and tension.
- The Other Body: how we treat those who don’t fit the physical and mental standards of the so-called ‘able bodied’. There are 11.9m disabled people in the UK and we are failing to use their skills.
- The Other Sex: how LGBTQ communities are treated. There are 74 countries in the world where homosexuality remains illegal and 10 where it is still punishable by death.
- The Other Age: ageism from the perspective of young and old, and the disproportionate value we place on those of ‘working age’. Younger people are stereotyped as lazy, fickle, disengaged and lacking commitment, whereas older people are cantankerous, slow, out of touch, feeble, boring and backward looking. We can make better use of both groups.
- The Other View: divisions caused by opposing political views and the vital importance of listening to the other side of any argument.
- Six degrees of integration are proposed:
- Challenge your ism: there is a questionnaire at diversify.org
- Check your circle: don’t just talk to the people you usually do.
- Connect with the other:seek out people you wouldn’t normally.
- Change your mind:be prepared to accept another view.
- Celebrate difference:find the best that alternative views can offer.
- Champion the cause:there is more power in unity than division.
- The total cost of maintaining the status quo and refusing to invest further in inclusion and diversity is £127 billion per year, according to the LSE.
POINTS TO CONSIDER AND DISCUSS
- The book recommends that people should:
- Raise issues that are affecting the ability of the business to recruit and retain talent from a diverse pool
- Query behaviour and procedural practices that exclude or increase division
- Help create an environment of compromise where the working practices are inclusive
- Examine how work experience, internship and apprentice opportunities are advertised
- Undertake a diversity audit to identify gaps and set goals
- The soft bigotry of low expectations often means we expect less from those who are atypical, but their differences don’t detract from their talents.
- What if the new normal was that there wasn’t a ‘normal’?
- Don’t assume bad intent, ask questions, make your argument but don’t assume that your point of view is valid just because it’s yours.
- “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”Rumi
- “Before we pursue world peace, we need to achieve living-room peace.”Miroslav Volf