Gagged - Diversity and inclusion are still a distant… | ...Gasp!


Diversity and inclusion are still a distant reality

The Blogfather went for a meeting in a dockside warehouse last week, but what he encountered wasn’t a shady shakedown, but an all too familiar lack of diversity and inclusion.

Furthermore, the people serving the food and coffee were all women. The people organising the event on the floor were a mixture of women and men, but the person under-pinning the whole event and ensuring all the snags were overcome was a black woman.

Invariably when I am invited to a rendezvous in a dockside warehouse, and there is a heavy on the door, it’s usually the case that some serious shit is going down. But as I entered and was greeted with smiles and a platter of mini patisseries, my fear of receiving a club to the back of head receded, although it quickly became apparent the event was potentially more corrupt than any dodgy dockside deal; I had arrived at a corporate banking event.

It was an event to collate info on SME’s banking challenges; a succession of interviews in a speed dating style set-up, with panels made up of important heads from a diverse array of banks (that much was diverse).

It included a bloke from Lloyds (who Gasp actually bank with), which was timely, as we’d had a recent issue, but it turns out he knows as much about his own products as the horses that appear in their adverts.

But I digress. As I was grilled under a fierce spotlight, something began to register with me, and I kept a tally in my head.

This is the tally:

I was interviewed by 3 panels.

8 people in total.

All men.

6 Caucasian, 2 Asian.

Furthermore, the people serving the food and coffee were all women. The people organising the event on the floor were a mixture of women and men, but the person underpinning the whole event and ensuring all the snags were overcome was a black woman.

I should state, even 6 months ago, I would have never noticed any of this. I turn 40 next year, and it is only now this kind of thing is becoming noticeable to me. This highlights two things. 1) I should have lived my life a lot better, less blinkered and with less gun-running, but also 2) that maybe, just maybe, there are the seeds of change floating in the air that can land and take root.

Any meaningful campaign for change in society needs long-term, relentless battering on the right doors and heads (mine included) by as many people as possible, led by people who aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers and lead by example.

I’m in a privileged position, in more ways than one, as we’ve been fortunate at Gasp to have some of these important people as guests on our Call to Action podcast.

Tricia Wang covered this topic when she spoke to us. She thinks we’re heading in the right direction, as at least we are talking about it, but we need a new language, a new space to talk in, and new leaders.

She made a very telling observation; that bias has become so ingrained that we do not even question it in design. Most products are designed with men in mind. For instance, the air conditioning in the room she recorded in was set at a particular default temperature that’s best for men. Women actually have a different, ideal, default temperature. She recommends the book Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez for further reading.

She also made the point that more people who are straight, white males need to care and speak up.

One such dude is a friend of the Gasp show, JP Hanson:

“We absolutely need diversity of thought from a purely strategic standpoint.”

As Tricia says, he gives us good language about how to talk about it.

Our most recent podcast guest is Jane Evans, the woman behind the Uninvisibility movement that aims to bring mid-life women into the spotlight. Her pod episode has loads of memorable parts, but one that lingers was her selection of gagging orders as the one thing she would like to banish from the industry, as it is awful to see great women haunted by things they cannot share.

One of the key things that has stayed with me this year is the Nudgestock talk by Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson on bias. She states that the first thing and biggest hurdle to overcome is to admit that we all have unconscious biases. From here, we can start to notice them and block them, or at least not allow them to dictate our choices.

Stefanie is also a future podcast guest of ours, as is another huge name in the quest for diversity and inclusion; Cindy Gallop. We will certainly be spoiling you in future weeks.

This blog is fast becoming a future podcast guest teaser fest, but Tom Goodwin (yep, a future guest) talks about the WeWork shit-show and an interview from Scott Galloway in his latest newsletter. The failure of WeWork is interesting for several reasons, but one that is pertinent here is:

Why do so many continue to worship privileged men who behave so awfully?

It is hard to stomach and fathom. You only have to hear tale of the sycophants defending Harvey Weinstein when he rocked up to a comedienne’s live stand-up show recently for further evidence of this.

If one man is the figurehead of the wall that needs to be smashed, then it can only be Donald Trump. We can take our pick of examples, but let’s go with this, which they tried to bury amidst the usual chorus of media chaos recently: the publishing of the book ‘All the President’s Women’ – 43 allegations of sexual assault for the 45th President of the United States.

He’s even taken the term ‘lynching’ and applied it to himself, in referring to how he perceives his treatment over the impeachment proceedings. Staggering. The fact he gets away with all of it is deeply troubling.

But there is a reason for hope. We need more heroines like American politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. If you haven’t watched her put Mark Zuckerberg in his place once again, then make 5 minutes to do so...

...we’re living life in video game ‘easy’ mode, to quote the brilliant designer Gavin Strange

In light of The Guardian publishing a piece just today on how only 4% of the protagonists in children's books in the UK are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, I’ll sign off with telling you about the lady Jane Evans dedicated her podcast to.

Verna Wilkins lived next to Jane in the early 80s. One day her son came home from school carrying a painting he’d done of himself, but in which he’d painted himself pink. When Verna asked him why, he said it was because people in books are only white. This moved Verna so much that she set about creating a diverse multi-cultural book publishing company called Tamarind Books.

She eventually got her books onto the National Curriculum.

We need more ladies like Verna in the world, but we also need more middle-class, middle-aged white men that realise we’re living life in video game ‘easy’ mode, to quote the brilliant designer Gavin Strange (*who may or may not be a future pod guest).

*He is. It's out soon. And it's an absolute belter.

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