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Diversity And Inclusion Are Fashionable Fripperies Or Business Essentials?

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This should initially be filed under Mandy Rice Davies, well, she would say this wouldn’t she? After all, it is her comfortable job on the line and we do expect people to act in their own rational self-interest. The much more interesting thing here is that we’re about to find out whether this oh so essential diversity and inclusion actually is essential or whether it’s the sort of fashionable frippery that a business can do without:

Monzo has been criticised for informing its head of diversity that she’s at risk of redundancy at a time when Black Lives Matter protests are taking place around the world.

Sheree Atcheson, the challenger bank’s head of diversity and inclusion, said on Twitter that she is one of 80 Monzo employees who may be made redundant as part of a round of cuts at the business.

“Inclusion should not be prioritised only when things are easy,” Ms Atcheson wrote on LinkedIn, “because when things are hard, that’s when inequity, unfairness and bias really comes to the forefront. We’ve seen this more than ever in the past weeks and months.”

The executive added that she is currently seeking a new job.

The reason we’re about to find out is that businesses are under a lot of pressure at present. There will be that urge to cut costs by slicing payroll. And as everyone should know it’s a lot more practical to do this by simply not undertaking a function at all than it is to try to pare back the number of people performing it. The way to kill bureaucratic expenses is not to have a meeting to decide to not expand the bureaucracy, it’s to slice the extant bureaucracy off at the knees.

Some businesses will indeed look at their diversity and inclusion departments, decide they’re worth even less than HR and close them down. This will be driven by that desire to cut costs by leaving out perhaps desirable things but things not entirely essential to the future health of the business.

Others will look at the riots out there – sorry, the justifiable anger at the oppression extant – and decide that the promotion of that diversity and inclusion is one of those things essential to the future health of the business. This is why we have markets in the first place, they’re driven by differences in opinion over valuations.

Excellent. And in the months and years to come we’ll find out who is right. One of other set of these businesses, those who wibble on about fashionable causes and those wedded to a 19th century concept of society, will win. Win by expanding in the marketplace, lose by fading away.

Not the important part here. The win will not be decided by what the arbiters of fashion say should swing it. Not even by what people say about it all. But by consumers actually deciding themselves, given the balance of what is available to them. It will be decided by revealed preferences, not expressed.

Those like Ms. Acheson should be all in favour of this too. For she does indeed believe that diveristy and inclusion are vital parts of modern business. Thus she should be looking forward to some people not doing it, going bust and thereby proving the contention. Sure, Ms. Acheson is entirely rational in hoping that it will be some other employer, not her own, that does this but the general principle stands.

If this current fashion for that imposed diversity and inclusion is in fact vital then it will thrive and survive where those not doing it will fail. Thus those in favour should entirely welcome the idea that some do not – in order to prove their base contention.

Of course, there is always the possibility that it is a frippery but then those who oppose diversity of business practice can only be those worried that reality will prove it to be so. Those frit that is.

The rest of us, let difference flourish and let’s see what happens. For we’re about to get a nice proof – where will people spend their money, what actually is important to them?

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