What’s it all about? What does it really mean and who gives a …?
We are now being introduced to the new rhetoric of ‘unfairness’. Just as I started to feel comfortable that I’ve ticked all my I’m not racist just slightly prejudice because of my ‘unconscious bias’ box. Now I’ve got to figure out how fair I am?
My aspiration is to treat everyone equally but I know I often fail, as I like some people more than others. I do try to love my neighbour even if I don’t like them much; as it protects me from hate which I have no interest in.
Life isn’t fair. I believe in a society that gives people access to knowledge and tools to be empowered to make a choice when they encounter ‘unfairness’. It is often the unfairness of life that creates our heroes, entrepreneurs and biggest contributors to society. I’m not saying that is right; it just is. To have any measure of success you must have a measure of challenge. The problem I have with the word ‘fairness’ is that it is a word for debate not a measurement of success. It is an unrealistic subjective concept.
I used to think it was unfair that I was from a single parent family, then I meet people who had two parents that couldn’t stand each other and didn’t have a mother that loved them as much as mine and opened their mind to the possibilities of life. I used to think that people in finance/professional service got the types of wages and perks they got opposed to those in the public sector and creative industries….so I got a job in the finance/professional services industry. I used to think it was unfair that I was the only black person in my department of over 100 people then I overcame a challenge and became respected and popular and was in a position to use my popularity to make a difference. I used to think it was unfair that some of my peers and clients (from all nationalities) would often focus on how I looked and what I wore rather than the substance of my argument and content of my work, then I realised it was one way that enabled me to build rapport and get advocacy for change. I used to think it was unfair that when I started a job, in my first meeting my boss felt it was appropriate to ask me if I dated black or white men. A question he didn’t ask his male colleagues or my white female peers then I realised…he was just an idiot; and he wasn’t going to stop me from getting the experience I had join the company to get.
I’m looking forward to reading the recently published report by the Equality & Human Rights Commission – How Fair is Britain? which describes Britain as tolerant and open-minded but it also shows that long-standing inequalities remain.
My challenges are small compared to some of the injustices that we have around the world today and I don’t mean to trivialise the ‘fairness’ debate but I do wonder if it actually distracts from the real issues which is how to we develop a value based society that is empowered to do the right thing?
Hopefully these questions will be answered in the report.
During my time leading a shared interest diversity network, the biggest challenge I found was helping people to understand the different between aspiration and reality. They work in tandem. We have to aspire to change but need transparency and honesty to understand what point we are starting from.
We live in an unfair world where some people have more recognizable challenges than others. Even if you are the same gender or race their is no guarantee you will be treated ‘fairly’ by your so-called ‘own people’ or even your family.
The debate around equality, diversity, fairness is back on the agenda as it is an expensive mistake to make especially as the UK is becoming more and more litigious and wealth is moving around the globe into unfamiliar hands.
‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’.
Life isn’t fair but out of adversity comes opportunity. Hopefully the report will empower people to find the opportunity in adversity by finding ways to collaborate with different types of people to create enterprising ideas for change; through better understanding and the desire to treat people how we would want to be treated.
It’s a journey and a choice. Call it what you like equality, diversity, fairness…on a basic level respect yourself and replicate that respect to others.
Then again, maybe how do we create a fair society is the best dumb question you can ask. Some of my best friendships have been build through dumb questions. Helping someone to see life through your eyes by giving them the opportunity to ask a dumb question without fear of reprisal. Dumb questions are fine just please don’t put your hands in my hair. Ask first.