I was interested in a conference advertised on LinkedIn today. Underneath it was a comment that all the speakers were white, and that it did not represent the “diversity of the UK sufficiently”. I disagree. I disagree for the reasons below, but most importantly, the comment was not context-specific: it was simply a bias, an opinion, an observation from a limited viewpoint. No more or less valid than mine below, but mine is set out for you to agree or disagree with.
What does “diversity” actually mean? Does it mean including a non-white person no matter what? What reasons might there be for having a conference consisting of only white people?
If you want diversity in the form of a statistical representation of the population, as that is what it realistically could be, then there would need to be about 50 conferences with 10 all-white speakers before the first person who is not white is invited to speak.
If they make this context-specific on the conference topic, then that number might rise to 90 conferences, assuming everyone involved were also expert on their chosen subject, of any colour or creed.
So what are they specifically saying when someone says a conference isn’t “diverse” enough, and why should the organisers skew the UK statistics for a politically correct agenda?
What is the commentator saying about the white people invited to speak at the conference? Are they not eminently more qualified to speak on these subjects than any other people in the country, regardless of their colour or creed?
This point alone would negate inviting people who are not “as professionally qualified” and thusly remove any PC bias in the form of the colour of their skin.
How do you suppose the speakers feel when their ethnicity is questioned rather than their professional prowess on the given subject? I would rather have my credentials questioned to ensure I am the right person to speak on the subject than my skin colour, just to fulfil someone else’s PC agenda.
If you try to force your PC agenda in an arena that would be adversely affected, what would be the positive outcome of your agenda? You would diminish the output of the conference by having potentially lesser-qualified speakers. The paying customers would not be getting value for money.
When you see a conference of all-white people in a subject that is niche in the world, let alone the UK, what possible good can come of forcing a bias on the organising of said conference that could adversely affect the potential quality of the outcome?
I think the best people for the job should be heard before the rest of the people in the field, regardless of their ethnicity. “Diversity” for the sake of it is therefore moot. IMHO.