Weekend Trial: The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion
The end of the year celebrations invaded my house at the start of the year. Frightened by rumors of a shortage of everything from toys to turkeys, I have already started to prepare for Christmas.
I had an argument with my older child that Wham’s Last Christmas was a better song to play at the school concert than Radiohead’s “Creep”. I lost.
My youngest now wants to rip all the doors off her advent calendar, while my daughter showed off her Christmas card design. It will haunt us for years to come via the obligatory tea towel, mug, key chains and whatever the school sells.
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Even before my oldest child participated in his school’s production A Christmas Carol, he was obsessed with the idea of ââtime travel. If he had a time machine, he would go back to the 1960s.
It’s before my time. But I’m wise enough to know that the swinging sixties weren’t just about good music and fashion, as the iconic photography of the time shows.
The blatant bigotry and intolerance that reigned at the time make me shudder. When my great aunt was dating a black man, his mother was rejected by women in the local community because of it.
“We have nothing to tell you,” a woman told him arrogantly in the laundromat. It could have been a scene in one of those kitchen sink dramas with Rita Tushingham, but it was reality.
I think this woman had a lot to say when my great aunt got married and started a MÃ©tis family. My great aunt was tough and didn’t care what people thought about her personal life, but it must have hurt that her mother had to put up with this kind of abuse.
Anyone who has watched Grantchester on TV – which takes place a little earlier, in the 1950s – will see the same kind of prejudice at play when it comes to gay men. It was, of course, illegal for gay people to be anything other than single at the time.
So, Grantchester viewers saw Leonard, the mild-tempered gay parish priest, lose his church job, end his relationship out of guilt, and struggle with life in prison. Her “crime” was being seen sharing a hotel room with her longtime boyfriend.
It’s fiction, but it’s grounded in the facts. Opinions began to change in the 1950s, but even when the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act partially decriminalized male homosexuality, inequalities and prejudices remained. As horrible as it sounds, at least gay men were recognized – lesbians were ignored as if they didn’t exist.
For people with disabilities, social prejudices have taken many forms. It is obvious to be spoken rather than spoken. “Does he take sugar?” Is a clichÃ©, but he hit the nail on the head in showing how making assumptions deprives people with disabilities of a voice.
While things still aren’t perfect these days – biases are often expressed more subtly now, rather than overtly – I’m grateful for celebrating Christmas present rather than Christmas past.
Diversity and inclusion are important to us at Money Marketing. We think our readers are great – we see the difference that financial advice and a good financial plan can make in people’s lives, so we want as many people as possible to have access to it.
That is why we tackle issues affecting specific groups or minorities by joining the counseling profession or accessing counseling themselves. Simply put, raising awareness of areas where financial advice isn’t working as well as it could for particular communities is the right thing to do.
Collectively, we are more likely to suggest improvements and solutions. But I think it’s fair to say that some advisers don’t always understand where reporters are coming from on this.
I have seen comments on articles – not just those in Money Marketing – which fall roughly into two categories. The first is along the lines of why do we keep talking about issues that affect a small percentage of the UK population – and perhaps even a smaller percentage of an adviser’s client bank – as if they affect the majority. ?
The other is how some groups in society can achieve something different from others in the name of equality – isn’t that a contradiction in terms? While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with these perspectives, I understand the thinking behind them.
When people started talking about identifying themselves as non-binary, it baffled me. I had never met someone who was neither male nor female, so the idea of âânot identifying with either one made no sense to me.
Especially when I heard on a radio show that the pronouns to use for a non-binary person are “they” and “them”. To me, these words were plural and to use them differently seemed strange to me.
When the radio show started a discussion about toilets for non-binary students at school, I thought to myself âwhy? “. How often were they going to be used compared to the girls’ toilets, which have notoriously long queues? Would it be lip service and, in reality, this toilet would be used by anyone who couldn’t find a spare cubicle elsewhere?
It wasn’t until I heard the parent of a non-binary student tell me what life was like for them that I understood the need, however small it was statistically. Now, with knowledge and awareness that I didn’t have before, I know that if I meet someone who identifies as non-binary, I’m more understanding and less likely to make them feel uncomfortable.
Our personal experiences shape what we see in front of us – sometimes that means we are blind to things that other people see with different experiences. Advisers rightly called me to order when I took my own experience of something and generalized it across the UK.
During a discussion about house prices, I spoke to a consultant in the Northwest about the difficulty of climbing the real estate ladder when house prices were so high. He told me that I was approaching things from the point of view of someone in the London bubble – he was going through something very different.
Last year I interviewed a gay financial advisor for Money Marketing and it was one of the most impactful interviews I’ve ever done.
It got me thinking about the assumptions I make when I meet someone and ask them, in a normal conversation, if they are married or have children.
The possibility that these were same-sex partnerships was not something I had thought about before, which seems arrogant to me now.
I’ve had gay friends for more than half of my life, so I should have done better than make those guesses. But it took an interview with this advisor to really understand financial services and other things from the perspective of the gay community.
I don’t really have those kinds of conversations with the gay couple I’m friends with – we talk about work, what we’ve been up to, and football. Their sexuality is irrelevant.
I guess I fell into the trap that a lot of people do. We’re not sexist, racist, or homophobic, so we don’t think about the characteristics that make someone different from us. In doing so, one can lose sight of the difficulties they may face.
I used to think that treating everyone the same was fair. Now, I realize that even with the best of intentions, it can sometimes be the opposite. Imagine everyone walking up a flight of stairs to your office. Anyone can access it, in theory. But without a ramp, it is difficult for people with certain disabilities or with strollers.
Some kind of intervention is often necessary to establish a level playing field between the majority and a minority. No one would say that a ramp is “special treatment”, and I would expect the interventions to be very extreme in causing a situation where “special treatment” makes fun of equality.
Like Scrooge, let’s forget about the moral and emotional side of things for a moment. Minority groups are consumers and that means they are valuable to businesses. There is a business case to understand them, their needs and make your proposal attractive to them.
You only have to look at the role of the gay community in regenerating Brighton to see the business benefits of embracing diversity and inclusion.
Minority groups make up the majority of customers for some companies and I think this is also worth noting. My husband and I rented a house in Whitechapel, East London for a year while we were selling an apartment in St Albans. In short, the apartment belonged to my husband before we met and I had a dog, who was not allowed to live there under the terms of the lease. So we rented.
The world food aisle in the local supermarket was huge in Whitechapel and although local law firms did everything law firms do, they specialized in immigration, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the region.
I am not suggesting that the councilors skew their entire proposal in favor of minority groups. But I don’t think it would hurt to convey to potential clients that financial consulting firms are a bigger church than they appear. Even companies specializing in certain communities see the logic of welcoming other customers.
I remember meeting my friend Andy after work and looking for a place to eat in London’s Soho. We came across a restaurant that we liked the look of, walked inside and as we were seated and handed over the menus we were told it was mostly for lesbians and asked if that bothered us.
Andy and I looked at each other, surprised to be questioned. As long as they served food we were happy and as long as we paid the restaurant was happy to serve people who weren’t their typical customers.
In the financial advisory industry, technology is breaking down traditional geographic boundaries, so clients don’t necessarily need to see a local advisor. This means that someone who lives in an area with a high proportion of people from minority groups – like Brighton or Whitechapel – might focus on finding the right advisor rather than going to the advisor down the road. By not meeting their needs, consulting firms are missing a tip.
Historically, wealth in the UK has been passed down through generations of white families. But people from other ethnic groups have great ideas, they are starting businesses using new technology, and they are making money in other areas such as sports and entertainment. Thus, future generations of Black Britons and Asians may have more wealth than their ancestors and this wealth will have to be managed.
Lacking Jacob Marley’s ability to conjure up the ghost of Christmas’s future, I can’t predict exactly where the new areas of growth will be for consulting firms. But there are many types of people who can inherit and make money, so I would expect businesses that cater to everyone regardless of their heritage, sexual orientation, and disability to have a competitive edge. .