Friday 17 June 2022

Mixed Messages

I was at a special interest group virtual seminar, about Diversity and Inclusion, this week. It was a closed group, not public: you had to give your identity, credentials and reason for attending in order to get the link, to ensure that relevant people attended.

One of the themes was about the subtle messaging that we can send, either deliberately or inadvertently, that others may read, that signals that we are intending either to include or exclude.

And the meeting was set up so that not only the Q&A stream , but also the chat function, were only visible to the host and the panel speakers.

The host, opening the session, mentioned that he realised that he was 'preaching to the choir' in his opening remarks.

All of which had the effect of making me feel excluded.

It is not, of course, that I think that either Diversity or Inclusion are Bad Things; but I do like to engage critically with such topics, and there are certainly questions about the particular approach that was being championed on this seminar.  

In particular, I think that diversity and inclusion are indicators; if either or both are missing, then it may be that an injustice or a lack of charity is being committed.  But it is justice and charity that are the primary values, not diversity and inclusion per se. Sometimes a lack of diversity, and exclusion, may be both the just and the charitable state of affairs. To take a topical example, men are rightly excluded from women's sporting competitions.

But the set-up of the event made me think that raising such questions would not be welcomed - it would be like the choir questioning the vicar mid-sermon, to use the host's analogy.

As a team I worked with many years ago used to say, if you can't walk the talk, at least try to stumble the mumble...


With thanks to Tim Mossholder and Eilis Garvey for sharing their photos on Unsplash

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