Alok Sharma MP: Ethnic monitoring good for business
The Conservative Party doesn't do quotas, affirmative action, or positive discrimination. Their mantra is that any form of discrimination is wrong. Sadly, not countering one with another leaves the discriminatory ‘Old boys’ network, public school/Oxbridge fraternities, and institutional bias in the public and private sector in tact, holding back huge sways of talent.
However, the recently promoted Conservative Vice Chair Alok Sharma, wants the Government to push big business to at least monitor how it recruits staff . Sharma has told the Times that:
"You could have some sort of voluntary code for listed companies. If you have taken on 10 people this year, and you had 100 interviews and you had 1,000 people who applied, can we see the breakdown by gender and ethnic balance?"
"Other countries already do it in terms of gender balance, but we could be doing something new if we did it in terms of ethnic balance."
He is right of course; the business world has its own mantra: if you don’t have the data, you cannot deal with any underling problems.
It’s a shame therefore that critics from the Right and the Left have come Sharma’s way. There’s no real surprise when you hear radio ‘shock jocks' such as LBC’s Nick Ferrari, who this morning dedicated time in his programme then roundly applauded contributors who labelled Black contributors calling for fairness, as ‘radicals', weighed down by the ‘chips on their shoulders’. But it does come as a surprise when the Labour Party dismisses Sharma’s plans as laughable. What then is laughable about an idea that moves race equality forward?
Sharma has proven himself not to be shackled by Tory dogma: If it’s a good idea that will benefit business and tackle persistent race inequality he’ll push. Far from being tribal about a decent idea, all parties should coalesce around a simple measure that helps understand and ultimately tackle racial prejudice.