Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday, I was at a business breakfast about the London Olympics and the opportunities for businesses to tender for contracts in this space. There was hardly any mention of the importance of cultural diversity in the presentations, and there were only two ethnic minorities in the audience of a total of fifty people. I stood up and reminded the panel that one of the key reasons why London won the bid was because of its huge cultural diversity, and therefore it is a legal duty that ethnic minorities benefit from the contracts that are awarded.

This is the reality of race equality in Britain - having a diversity and equality policy will help you tender for Olympics contracts - it does not matter if the owners and directors are mono-cultural to win, except perhaps for the really big contracts, where companies have rushed to hire some ethnic consultants/advisers to win the tenders. The tick-boxing culture is so rampant in Britain and the understanding of race issues so weak among the majority culture, that there is a huge amount of work to be done. Above all, prejudice is deep and real.

Going back to yesterday, one local Councillor came to me and said 2 per cent of Essex is ethnic so we were proportionately right in the room - he somehow forgot that it was this proportion which helped him win the Olympics in the first instance, even though I had said it loudly in my question. Another Business Link representative said that the event was open to all - so it is upto minorities to make the effort to come - he somehow forgot that Chiness takeaway workers are that because they cannot get any other work nor has anyone taken an interest in their training and development for them to learn and progress - they remain stuck behind the counter and sometimes suffer the swearing and taunts they get from their customers, quietly. This in spite of feeding Britain.

Where does one begin in this dialogue? People are so ignorant of their own prejudices and ethnic minorities so incapacitated that there is much to be done. And when Sir Trevor Phillips says that there is no institutional racism in Britain, I strongly disagree.

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