The Telegraph 2024-03-20 10:00:35

Kemi Badenoch: Britain’s diversity drive has backfired

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.  

“In fact, many practices have not only been proven to be ineffective, they have also been counterproductive.”

She adds: “No group should ever be worse off because of companies’ diversity policies – whether that be black women, or white men … Performative gestures such as compulsory pronouns and rainbow lanyards are often a sign that organisations are struggling to demonstrate how they are being inclusive.”

Expensive schemes

Mrs Badenoch commissioned the independent Inclusion at Work Panel last year to investigate whether EDI was working in Britain amid concerns that too much money was being spent on the schemes.

Diversity training aims to help staff understand the types of discrimination, including direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation, and how to treat others with respect.

But the Business Secretary claimed that it had little impact in increasing diversity or reducing prejudice, pointing out that the number of employment tribunals hearing cases brought under the Equality Act had seen a “notable uptick”.

Experts also said that the “well-intentioned” attempts to boost visible diversity could lead to organisations breaking the law by discriminating against white candidates for jobs.

They found that one in four business leaders said their approach to diversity was reactive, such as being “in response to societal events like the Black Lives Matter protests” that started in 2020.

The report recommended that bosses avoid diversity schemes which alienate certain groups – such as the white working class – cause division, and have no impact. It called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to clarify the legal status for employers in relation to diversity and inclusion practice.

It also urged bosses to take into account disadvantages faced by the working classes when shaping diversity schemes, concluding: “Employers must also consider less visible diversity, including socioeconomic and educational background.”

Mrs Badenoch – who last year said that Britain was “the best country in the world to be black” – hits out at “snake oil” diversity schemes and tells firms that their equality strategies must uphold “fairness and meritocracy”.

She says some firms had broken the law under the guise of diversity and inclusion by “censoring beliefs or discriminating against certain groups in favour of others”.

“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,” she says.

“This Government believes that EDI policies should unite rather than alienate employees, and crucially uphold fairness and meritocracy.”

Kemi Badenoch
Pronouns and rainbow lanyards not way to foster inclusion

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The report cited the example of Cheshire Police, which in 2019 had to pay out £100,000 after being found to have discriminated against a white applicant on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and gender.

RAF discrimination

The panel also highlighted the RAF’s discrimination against white men as part of its drive to improve diversity. Last year, it admitted that initiatives to increase the numbers of women and people from ethnic minorities had led to unlawful positive discrimination.

An internal inquiry was sparked by the resignation of a female RAF group captain who told her superiors the policy penalised white men. The inquiry found that she had faced significant and unreasonable pressure to meet diversity targets.

Earlier this year, The Telegraph revealed that military personnel wanted to relax clearance checks for ethnic minority officers in a push to hit diversity targets.

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, said the findings showed a “woke” and “extremist culture” had been allowed to infiltrate the Army.

The independent panel said firms should ensure that the number of EDI staff they had represented “value for money”, pointing out that the UK appointed twice as many as any other country.

Freedom of Information requests submitted in 2022 to 6,000 public bodies including the NHS found they employed around 10,000 diversity and inclusion staff, at a cost of £557 million a year to the taxpayer.

Mrs Badenoch is considering a further crackdown on EDI spending in government, with a possible new rule that external consultants should not run such schemes.

It comes after Mr Hunt told government departments last year to sack diversity managers if they wanted to bring in more staff, saying: “Smashing glass ceilings is everyone’s job – not a box to be ticked by hiring a diversity manager.”

Pamela Dow, the chairman of the independent panel, from think tank Civic Future, said: “It has been a privilege to work with such expert colleagues, united in the goal of fairness and belonging in the workplace. Our aim was to support leaders in all sectors to spend time and money well.

“The insights from our wide discussions show how we can build a useful evidence base, track data, improve confidence and trust, and reduce burdens, for organisations across the UK.”

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Trump: Princess of Wales photo editing row ‘shouldn’t be a big deal – everyone does it’

Donald Trump has said the Princess of Wales’s photo editing row “shouldn’t be a big deal” because “everybody doctors” their pictures, as he called for the public to stop criticising her.

The former US president weighed into the debate on the princess’s Mothering Sunday photo, days after she released an apology for airbrushing the image of herself and her children.

In an interview with Nigel Farage on GB News, Mr Trump said: “Well it shouldn’t be a big deal. Because everybody doctors [their pictures].

“You look at these movie actors, and you see a movie actor and you meet them and you say: ‘Is that the same person in the picture?’”

Mr Trump was accused of editing photographs when he asked government officials to crop an image of crowds on the National Mall in Washington DC during his inauguration in 2017.

The photograph was cropped to remove the space “where the crowd ended”, after Mr Trump was frustrated that more people were pictured at Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.

On Tuesday, he said that the public should stop criticising the Princess of Wales for a “minor” edit, which sparked online conspiracy theories about her health.

“I looked at that, actually, and it was a very minor doctoring,” Mr Trump said. “It is a rough period and, you know, they’re really going after her.”

He also used the interview to take aim at the Duke of Sussex, who has been accused of lying on his immigration forms about whether he had used drugs when he moved to the US with the Duchess in 2020.

“We’ll have to see if they know something about the drugs, and if he lied they’ll have to take appropriate action,” Mr Trump said.

Pressed on whether that would mean “not staying in America”, he replied: “Oh I don’t know. You’ll have to tell me. You just have to tell me.”

The Duke of Sussex’s immigration status has become the subject of a lawsuit by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which is suing the government to release his immigration forms. Lawyers for the US government have said that his description of taking narcotics in his memoir, Spare, is “not proof he took drugs”.

Mr Trump said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to leave Britain had insulted the late Queen, describing their decision as a “great disrespect done to a person that I got to know very well”.

“She was unbelievable, and I thought she was treated very disrespectfully by them,” he said.

“I would say, although she wouldn’t show it because she was strong and smart, I would imagine they broke her heart.

“The things that they were saying were so bad and so horrible. And she was in her nineties and hearing this stuff. I think they broke her heart. I think they really hurt her.”

‘I’m a different kind of environmentalist’

It is rare for Mr Trump to give an interview to a British news outlet, preferring instead to speak to conservative networks in the US.

Mr Farage, the former Ukip and Brexit Party leader, is a friend of the former president and has suggested he would like to serve as the UK’s ambassador to the US under a Trump administration.

Asked for his views on the King, Mr Trump said on Mr Farage’s programme that he and the monarch had “different views” on environmental policy, but “got along”.

“He was a little bit more into environmental restriction than I am,” he said.

“I’m an environmentalist, I feel in a true sense. But I’m a different kind of environmentalist. You know, I want to get things built, I want to get things done.

“He was very much into the environment. And he meant it from the heart.”

Asked whether he would continue to support the Nato alliance if he wins in November’s presidential election, Mr Trump said he would “100 per cent” defend other countries if they meet defence spending commitments.

In a bizarre tangent, the presumptive Republican nominee also claimed the Democrats had allowed “15 million people” into the country during Joe Biden’s administration.

“15 million people that come in from prisons, they come from prisons, many of them, they come from mental institutions and insane asylums like Silence of the Lambs,” he said.

“Hannibal Lecter, I wonder if he’s one of the terrorists coming into our country totally unchecked.”

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson ‘offered role’ of next James Bond

Aaron Taylor-Johnson has reportedly been offered the role of the next James Bond.

The 33-year-old British actor has been asked to take over from Daniel Craig, who played the role for 15 years.

Taylor-Johnson rose to fame in 2009 when he was cast as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy by his now wife Sam Taylor-Johnson, who is 24 years his senior.

The Sun reported that Eon Productions, which has made most of the films in the series adapted from Ian Fleming’s novels, has offered Taylor-Johnson the role of 007.

The newspaper said he was likely to sign the contract and start filming this year at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

A source told The Sun: “Bond is Aaron’s job, should he wish to accept it. The formal offer is on the table and they are waiting to hear back.

“As far as Eon is concerned, Aaron is going to sign his contract in the coming days and they can start preparing for the big announcement.”

Taylor-Johnson had been tipped for the role alongside actors including Cillian Murphy, Idris Elba, Henry Cavill and James Norton.

Ladbrokes said on Monday that the actor was now favourite to replace Craig, who bowed out of the franchise after 2021’s No Time To Die.

Last week, Taylor-Johnson was asked about Bond by Numero Magazine and said: “I find it charming and wonderful that people see me in that role. I take it as a great compliment.”

Previously, Rory Kinnear, who plays Bill Tanner in the franchise, and Charlie Higson, the author of  Young Bond novels, have discredited the idea of a “front-runner” because they usually do not get the role

Kinnear said in an interview on BBC’s The One Show: “I always feel slightly bad for the people who are being highlighted, because that never tends to be them. They [casting directors] are very good at keeping the real person secret.”

Higson, who is also an actor, said in May 2023 that if an actor was talked about as “being considered” as the next 007, “you know that they’ve been rejected”.

He also said: “Eon [Productions], who make the films, play their cards very close to the chest and a lot of times they really surprise people… in particular, Daniel Craig. Nobody had any idea at all that he might be Bond and, if you’d been asked in advance, you’d have said ‘Daniel Craig, James Bond? Surely not’.”

The next Bond film has been delayed because of last year’s Hollywood strikes. The most recent film made more than £600 million at the global box office.

Craig starred in 2006’s Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace in 2008, 2012’s Skyfall and Spectre in 2015.

The 56-year-old grew to resent the role and claimed he would rather “slash my wrists” than play the fictional spy again.

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