General Paralysis of the Diverse

Victorian Insane Asylum

The Performing Rights Society (PRS) is a body that collects a modest levy on the playing of music in public spaces, in order that the musicians or composers be paid a small sum each time their work – ie their intellectual and artistic property – is broadcast. This seems fairly reasonable, though as usual, power corrupts: “In October 2009, PRS for Music apologised to a 56-year-old shelf-stacker at a village in Clackmannanshire for pursuing her for singing to herself while stacking shelves. PRS for Music initially told her that she would be prosecuted and fined thousands of pounds if she continued to sing without a “live performance” licence. However PRS for Music subsequently acknowledged its mistake” (Wikipedia).

But I leave aside the occasional stupidity and pompous over-reach of the PRS in the field, and instead invite the reader to consider the PRS approach to its recruitment and staffing:

PRS for Music is pleased to announce that Colin Campbell-Austin has been appointed to the newly created role of Head of Inclusion and Employee Experience.

Reporting into Chief People and Transformation Officer, Suzanne Hughes, with the support of a newly created Diversity and Inclusion and Culture Coordinator role, Colin will be an advocate for all employees, leading on PRS for Music’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy, as well as employee experience strategy, acting as an ambassador for the organisation’s culture and values. With equal accountability for recruitment, learning, talent development, and engagement, this newly created role will ensure that a diversity and inclusion lens is applied and embedded throughout the organisation at every level.

Colin joins PRS for Music following a varied and extensive career in the Diversity and Inclusion field. As People Development and Talent Manager at Channel 4…..”

and so it goes on. To quote it all would not add pleasure to the readers of the Salisbury Review, but for those who wish to venture into this Alice-in-Wonderland world, the weblink is here:

By contrast, in our small town there are, as far as I know, no positions resembling that held by Colin Campbell-Austin. The boatbuilders have no Diversity Officer, and the handful of remaining quarrymen do not benefit from the endeavours of a People Development and Talent Manager. The fishermen and mussel farmers and lifeboatmen are, I fear, oblivious to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies, and the guys running the offshore support boats have never received the ministrations of a Chief People and Transformation Officer.

And yet despite this, and despite their benighted lack of a “diversity lens”, Ollie and Matt glimpsed, miles away at sea, a very small speck that they could not identify. No business of theirs, yet something unusual, troubling…they looked carefully through binoculars (made with conventional prism lenses, rather than diversity lenses), still uncertain. They possibly breached the terms of the support contract when they decided to leave the windfarm to investigate, but the nine-year-old boy they rescued from an inflatable raft blown miles offshore is thankfully still alive.

The observant will note how few women are referenced above, but this may mislead. Despite the scandalous absence of Diversity Advocates in the town there are, and for a couple of decades have been, Lifeboat women as well as Lifeboatmen. The present owner of one of the mussel dredgers is female, the new apprentice boatbuilder likewise, and one of the skippers of a fast fishing boat is of female persuasion. No Inclusivity Quotas have been introduced to ensure female representation. If a woman wants to do a job, and is capable, then that’s enough. Just as a man has to want to do a job, and be capable. No difference between them.

Folks here work, and generally work hard, just to survive. They have a certain independence and a fair bit of pride in their work. They do whatever it is they do, and I doubt they ever attend a Diversity and Inclusion Seminar. They’re men and women and they’re tough, and they’re sometimes pretty rough too, and most of them have kind hearts, brusque generosity, unsentimental helpfulness.

So here’s the joke: I know the boatbuilders have the radio playing all day in the background, as do the fishermen and the offshore support crew. (The quarrymen don’t for the obvious reason they couldn’t hear it). The PRS can and do go round persecuting hairdressers and small shops, but for some reason they never approach the people who are strong, independent, bloody-minded, grounded in their work; who use language that is sometimes robust; whose mathematics considers breaking-strains and horsepower and wattage rather than BAME ratios. I suppose the PRS apparatchiks are fearful of such prey, preferring instead to descend upon the weak, and only the weak, brandishing threats. And the income thus raised goes to pay the ample salaries of persons such as Colin Campbell-Austin.

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2 Comments on General Paralysis of the Diverse

  1. How many of your lifeboatmen and lifeboatwomen are black? How many are trans? I hope they’re not proposing to put out to sea in order to save people’s lives without first ensuring that the crew of the lifeboat proudly celebrates diversity and inclusivity.

    If a lifeboat crew saves somebody’s life without waving a rainbow flag in his, her or its face, that lifeboat crew is demonstrably an evil gang of far-right neo-Nazis.

    If ever I’m drowning at sea, I hope no privileged white heterosexual male will offer to save me. It would be almost as bad as being rescued by a Salisbury Review reader!