The diversity angle

One day in a Kingdom far far away the King decided that the advisory council must be diverse. And therefore a few of his advisors were replaced with women advisors, some of the brightest minds in the Kingdom. Of course there was a lot of hue and cry but the King persisted and the status quo was challenged. Nevertheless, there was no visible change in the quality of advising and eventually the voices of dissent started to die down. The King’s initiative had been successful.

Seeing this, other Kingdoms started to follow suite. And this was a good thing. Women finally had representation. They had a voice and their opinion mattered.

Then a year came when some of the brighter female candidates moved onto another Kingdom. The ones that were left behind weren’t the keenest or the brightest. Yet they could not be replaced because it would make the King look bad.

Thus the King transpired to have the women advisors become proxies and hired male advisors to work behind the scenes.

For this subterfuge to work, a whole machinery was put in place. The women advisors weren’t allowed to advise on public matters directly. For a while this facade worked perfectly. Then the King married a very smart Queen and made her in charge of his advisors.

To gauge their prowess, the queen gave a riddle to the advisors a riddle that only a man could have answered. When she heard the answers from the women advisors, she knew they were proxies.

She immediately fired all of the King’s advisors (much to the King’s chagrin) and didn’t replace them immediately. The King protested but the Queen was adamant. She had a plan and she assured the King it would ensure that they would get the best team possible.

The women advisors that has been fired banded together and started to protest on the streets. The situation seemed to be getting out of hand. Soon the rest of the advisors also started to protest.

So to quell the crowds, the Queen held a conference. She wanted to outline a plan and keep it very transparent. A fair way to handle the question of diversity. No handouts. No shortcuts. Only the brightest minds would join the council, irrespective of their sex, religion, caste, creed etc.

So on the day of the conference, the eager crowds gathered in the courtyard to hear the Queen’s edict. The Queen took the podium and in a resounding voice declared a test. A true test of acumen and skill that anybody could take, whether it would be the disabled, the abject poor, the outcasts, anybody at all.

The test would be taken everyday in the courtyard for the next 2 weeks and only the chosen few that did well in the test would make it to the council.

The Queen clearly stated that she didn’t believe in a stop gap arrangement just to tick a box in the name of diversity. If true diversity were to be achieved, a level playing field would be the fairest way to go about it.

Every year, the test would change and everybody, even the advisory council would have to take it. Only the people who would do well in the test would be allowed to be part of the council. Of course those that would be in the council would be fairly and evenly compensated to ensure their impartiality.

And thus began the test. And every year some of the council members would change. But the council now was truly diverse because anybody could dream of sitting next to the King and advise him on matters of the Kingdom.

It was perfect. It was fair. And thus, the Queen gave dignity to the thousands of people that never stood a chance before.

Diversity is a great initiative, but it cannot be shoehorned, it cannot be forced. There has to be a level playing field for it to be fair. It should apply to everybody, no matter their status, their background. This is utopian but if we can’t strive for true equality then anything we do is an exercise in whitewashing the truth.

The opinion I state in the article are not inflexible and open to criticism and debate. A dialog must be started to arrive at a meaningful consensus. Consider this my attempt to start one.

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Ritesh Shergill

Ritesh Shergill

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