Speaking at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship conference this week, Michael Gove took aim at a “resentment industry” specialising in the “manufacture of grievance”. Rich companies, he suggests, have formed a “coalition” with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) industry in order to entrench their wealth and evade criticism. In the Telegraph, Sam Ashworth-Hayes says there’s just one thing missing from Gove’s rage against the EDI machine – the role the Government, and by extension his own party, has played in its development.
Only this year, Parliament seriously debated an amendment to the Equality Act which would have allowed staff to sue their employers if offended by a customer. The bill as passed still mandates “reasonable steps” – essentially training – on sexual harassment, driving more investment into the HR industry. It’s not hard to see how that drives demand for training, policies and other mitigating steps as a result.
The Conservative Party has hardly helped its case by continuing its grand project of outsourcing the responsibility for achieving policy goals into the private sector. Gender pay gap reporting requirements quickly become HR staff requirements, as do the policies needed to deal with any backlash generated.
You don’t need to be in favour of bad bosses or employers to see how this can lead to a bloom in jobs essentially unconnected to the bottom line, particularly when the language used in a 13-year-old law [the Equality Act] can expand in meaning over time.
If, having sat in office for 13 years overseeing these laws, and passed more than a few of them, you believe this is a price worth paying, that’s totally valid.
What sticks in the craw is Jeremy Hunt turning around and asking for fewer Civil Service diversity managers, or Gove railing against the iniquities of the industry. These jobs exist because you mandated them.
Waking up to this problem at the very end of their decade in office is the definition of shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
Worth reading in full.