What to do with 'diversity fatigue'

Amanda Parker, Director of Inc Arts, discusses the increasing usage of the phrase 'Diversity Fatigue'. In this exclusive guest blog, Amanda offers fresh perspectives on how to re-imagine your relationship with diversity.

‘Diversity fatigue’ is an awful phrase. I’ve had warning that it’s a growing sentiment, and as with all underground rumblings it is soon to burst into centre stage via social media – look out for it on a Twitter feed near you soon.

‘Diversity fatigue’ speaks of the weariness of hearing the narratives of others. It hints at irritation with the seemingly unending centring of experiences that are not that of the UK’s majority.

But for those who are fed up to the back teeth of hearing how much Black Lives Matter, for all those who counter that statement with the riposte ‘all lives matter’: for those who feel we’ve done diversity to death and anyway – why are we banging on about ethnicity, what about other protected characteristics – I say to you: I hear you. Diversity is just not your bag. No offence, but it just doesn’t touch your life. I understand that.

And if that is you, I’d like to especially welcome you to Black History Month. Permit me to invite you to turn your diversity fatigue into something that’s truly wonderful, enriching and inclusive of you.

I’m not going to bore you with the statistics (or at least, not beyond this one, because it’s a killer): diverse work teams are substantially more productive, according to research by McKinsey consultants in 2015. In a study of 366 public companies across the UK, US and Canada: 'companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns.'

Boom.

So how does this translate for a musician? Well, championing diversity gives you the opportunity to increase your profile, reach, audience engagement, public appreciation of your work, and the ability to attract funding and grow revenue.

If diversity’s not your bag, then effective business leadership might not be either.

How awfully presumptuous, you might think, to make a lazy correlation between a lack of engagement with diversity and an interest in the principles and values of the business strategy – Fair play, I give you that. So let us look at diversity from the perspective of you.

This is why diversity is good for your soul, your heart and mind – irrespective of whether or not you are included in any measure of protected characteristic, socioeconomic background or neurodiversity.

This time last year, a very dear friend of mine died of a cancer that just kept returning, during almost a decade of treatment. She was, in her lifetime, a highly respected senior leader in her field, and had trained generations of nurses before the cancer took its toll.

In her last weeks, time and again after gruelling rounds of treatment, of medication, of unsettled sleep, she would awaken to be greeted by efficient, caring, professional nurses. Countless numbers of them said to her, ‘you trained me, and I wouldn’t be here without you.’ Some said ‘the wisdom you shared with me has stayed with me forever’. Others told her that everything she’d taught them was being put into practice right now to give her the best care possible.

The passing on of knowledge. The preparation of those who come after you. The gratitude of those who can become their best selves because of the role you played in making positive change.

If you don’t currently care about diversity, then why not think of it in terms of your legacy. When it’s your time to move on, whether it’s from a position, from an ensemble, or from the profession, who’s going to champion your memory? Who will take on the best practice that you brought to bear? Who is going to ensure your legacy lives on?

Welcome to Black History Month. Make sure your time – in the industry, in your personal life and on earth - counts towards positive inclusive change.

Amanda Parker
Director and Founder, Inc Arts

Inc Arts is holding the Speak/Listen/Reset/Heal conference from 29 October – 24 November for the Dance and Theatre (inc. Opera) sectors. Come and speak your truth about racism in the sector. Come and be part of the change for good.

Tickets for ethnically diverse people (closed, private session):
Session 1: Speak and Listen
(29 Oct, 3 Nov)

Tickets for the wider sector - everyone welcome:
Session 2: Listen & Reset
(10 Nov)
Session 3: Reset & Heal Session
(24 Nov)

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