The Voice newspaper’s Olympics snub raises important questions around diversity
The justification given was that the British Olympic Association (BOA) had received over 3,000 requests for 400 available places, and that the application had been unsuccessful “after careful consideration by the Media Accreditation Committee.”
A petition soon appeared on www.change.org querying the “insulting and racist” decision, and questioning the nature of the training completed and the understanding of equality by the decision makers, and whether an equality impact assessment had been carried out.
In a matter of days, almost 3000 members of the public had added their signatures, and The Voice’s plight was backed by a series of high profile figures, including London mayor Boris Johnson, shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, Labour MPs Chukka Umunna and David Lammy, along with Aloun Assamba, Jamaica’s high commissioner.
Whilst the arguably generic and dismissive response presumably carried no malicious intent on the part of the Committee, what seems clear is that the implications of it were not fully considered by them.
On one hand, the Games organisers have publicly emphasised their commitment to diversity through a range of campaigns, and indeed a large number of participants from ethnic minorities are set to partake in the various competitions. Yet behind the scenes, a simple request from a prominent black media outlet to be present at the Stadium was rejected.
Rather than coming across as a carefully thought out decision as was stated in the response, what it instead suggests is a clear lack of concrete awareness and understanding around real life diversity issues in practice on the part of certain portions of the media.
As such, the seemingly innocent nature of the judgment lapse throws up uncomfortable questions. Does it highlight that diversity is still in many instances an abstract concept that huge organisations and bodies want to appear to be taking seriously in order to tick boxes? Or perhaps it suggests that we as individuals still have a long way to go in our quest to be a fully inclusive society?
On Wednesday the ruling against The Voice was abruptly overturned, illustrating that particularly in today’s digital age, questioning decisions that feel unjust can swiftly result in powerful action.
Notably, it is no small feat that almost 3000 members of the public, possibly many who are not even readers of The Voice, backed the campaign by lending their signatures to the petition.
This surely demonstrates that diversity is not something that large companies can afford to simply consider on the surface.
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