Britain’s diversity drive is counterproductive and has backfired, says Kemi Badenoch

Britain’s diversity drive has been “counterproductive” and done little to reduce prejudice despite millions being spent on inclusivity initiatives, Kemi Badenoch has said.

Britain’s diversity drive has been “counterproductive” and done little to reduce prejudice despite millions being spent on inclusivity initiatives, Kemi Badenoch has said.

The Business Secretary commissioned a report which found that the majority of spending on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) was a waste of money.

The report calls on bosses to take into account disadvantages faced by the white working classes when shaping diversity schemes, rather than focusing on “visible” quotas.

It comes amid a wider government crackdown on wasteful diversity schemes, with Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, using his Budget earlier this month to urge councils to cut spending on such policies and Rishi Sunak appointing a “common sense minister”.

Writing for the Telegraph, Mrs Badenoch, who is also equalities minister, says: “The new report shows that, while millions are being spent on these initiatives, many popular EDI practices – such as diversity training – have little to no tangible impact in increasing diversity or reducing prejudice.  Kemi continues:

Most employers mean well when they set about to improve diversity and inclusion. However, actions such as positive discrimination and quotas are unlawful, even if used to diversify an organisation. This Government believes that EDI policies should unite rather than alienate employees, and crucially uphold fairness and meritocracy.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of snake oil about. Just this week, a government minister found that the training materials for one of their departmental quangos included references to outmoded concepts like “unconscious bias”, and “white privilege”, and used a picture of someone holding up a placard saying “white silence costs lives”.

All of this bunkum was contained in mandatory training for 1,400 poor souls whose primary job is to help further the Government’s economic agenda.

That’s why last year the Government set up an independent Inclusion at Work Panel to address this issue in an evidence-led way. The panel was made up of private and public sector experts, and was advised by a leading professor at Harvard University.

We tasked the panel with looking at the latest research to understand how employers in Britain are applying EDI, and how we can help them improve their practice. Our goal was clear: diversity and inclusion should never put any individual or group at a disadvantage, and should never damage cohesion and morale in the workplace.

The panel has today published its final report. Much of it makes for concerning reading. The UK has seen an explosion of EDI roles in organisations. Studies found that the UK employs almost twice as many EDI workers per head than any other country. This same analysis estimates that EDI jobs in our public services are costing the taxpayer at least half a billion pounds a year.

Despite this, the new report shows that, while millions are being spent on these initiatives, many popular EDI practices – such as diversity training – have little to no tangible impact in increasing diversity or reducing prejudice.

In fact, many practices have not only been proven to be ineffective, they have also been counterproductive. Data from Employment Tribunal suggests that recent years have seen a notable uptick in cases brought using the Equality Act in comparison to the years 2013-17.

The report finds that, in some cases, employers are even inadvertently breaking the law under the guise of diversity and inclusion by censoring beliefs or discriminating against certain groups in favour of others.

Worth reading in full.