When some people hear the word diversity, all they think about is the dance group led by Ashley Banjo that unfairly lost out in Britain’s Got Talent in 2008. For others, they picture a group of middle-aged white male executives that control the boards of their offices and for very few, they see that one person of colour, female or member of the LGBT+ community that they work with.
While diversity itself is known to mean ‘a variety of different things’ why is it that we no longer accept this at face value? We no longer look at a team of people with different skill sets and call them a diverse team. We no longer look at a panel with different backgrounds and agree that the panel is diverse, we only seem to acknowledge diversity when it is something we can see at first glance and not something we have to dig deeper to understand.
In 2016 we saw the issue become subject of popular debate when the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite arose. Interestingly, Stacey Dash went on to comment on the fact that people of colour had created exclusive spaces for themselves such as BET (Black Entertainment Television) in fact she said “Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re Black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard”.
However, although people of colour are the face of BET, they are not the only people that are nominated for BET awards, nor are they the only people to have won.
Can true diversity be found in situations where everyone appears to look the same? Does diversity only exist when it’s inclusive? In what some may call a hyper-sensitive society we have seen that there is a constant desire to please everyone. Is the most qualified person the person being called for the job? Or, is it possible that the person that’s the most qualified is being passed over for someone who may not have the same qualifications but who fills some sort of quota?
Of course, both things are possibilities. However, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference and whilst some people may see quotas as a negative thing (as it may mean that the someone is getting passed over), I for one, see them as a positive thing. Quotas have meant an increase of minorities in spaces that have formerly been closed off to them. Quotas have meant that people have a foot in the door when the same doors have formerly been closed in their faces. Quotas allow for increased representation across the board which is not only healthy for the state of society but it is also healthy for the future. By seeing people that ‘look like them’ in spaces that weren’t necessarily created for them, the next generation of young people are able to aim for things that others may not have ever thought to aim for. Quotas quite literally create hope for the hopeless and that in itself is a reason to be grateful for them.
So while diversity may just be a buzzword for some, the quotas that it brings with them literally changes lives.