… Equality & Diversity and why it’s not OK.

A couple of years ago I was asked to go into my kids’ school for diversity week to talk about being a doctor.

Now why they wanted a white, middle aged, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied male to be the poster boy for diversity is beyond me, but that was what I was asked to do and that is what I did.

When I arrived it turned out I wasn’t talking to the boy’s class.  I was talking to the whole school in assembly.  If I wasn’t in awe of the work primary teachers do before that, I am now.

My technique was to impress the year 6’s by telling them how expensive healthcare is in America compared to free in the NHS ($50,000 for a knee replacement, anyone?), and to impress the nursery age kids by standing next to them and being really tall.

The thrust of my speech was that the NHS is fab because if you need help whether you’re the queen in her palace or a homeless person on the street, the NHS will offer everyone the same treatment and is therefore ace.

Last month I did the same talk for GP trainees, and explained why that is bollocks.  Every patient I see is different, so the same condition affects patients totally differently.  A dodgy knee for a provincial GP is fine (because I sit on my backside on a chair with wheels all day), while the same condition for a self-employed window cleaner who gets no sick pay, can’t climb a ladder safely so won’t earn a penny until he’s back at work is a bit different.  

And that isn’t in the medical textbooks.

While I write this, equality and diversity is a disappointingly hot topic. 

The fact that our footballers feel the need to take a knee in support of the fight against racism is bad enough.

What makes this worse is the element of the crowd who boo this action because they don’t think we need a public gesture against racism.  And then go on to boo through the opposition national anthem.

The argument seems to be “I am not a racist therefore I do not need this uncomfortable spectacle to remind me that it is a problem.”  Which is why we do.

After the recent high-profile murder of a young woman in London, people came out in the streets round the UK, lit candles and shared time together in support and solidarity, in the hope streets can be made safer.

A counterculture rose against this under the banner of “Not All Men”.

But guess what?

We know it’s not all men.

That’s pretty obvious.

But how many murders does it need to be before we acknowledge there’s a problem.


One each?

One was too many, and certainly enough to recognize that this is not OK.

When people used the #MeToo tag to highlight sexism and sexual assault in the worklplace and beyond, there wasn’t a counter swell of women saying # I Haven’t. 

And why not? 

Partly because there aren’t those women out there.  But mainly because they come from a position of vulnerability, and so can’t make a smug denial from a place of safety and advantage.

On International Women’s Day there is a predictable backlash asking when International Men’s Day is.  Well, any day we can walk home alone in relative safety, or enjoy a 15% gender pay gap seems a pretty clear place to start.

Look, I know this isn’t a typical topic for this blog.

And I know it’s a bit of a tightrope trying to be funny to highlight the issue.

But I’m doing my best to appreciate that I have a choice of pulling up the ladder behind me or acknowledging and being grateful for my advantages while seeing the problem exists.

And I promise I’m trying.

6 thoughts on “… Equality & Diversity and why it’s not OK.

  1. Nicely said! I got so tired too of hearing “all lives matter” in response to ‘Black Lives Matter’. We all (well most) see it for what it is; defensive, passive aggressive pretending everything is ok. Which I suppose it mostly is if you happen to be a white healthy hetero bloke.

    Liked by 2 people

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