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Monday, 22 September 2008

"Diversity Toolkit" at HM Gov

Her Majesty's Treasury was the venue for my lunch last week as I was meeting a friend who works there.

I asked my friend for his views on the current end of the world global economic meltdown and he reminded me that it was the 16th anniversary of "Black Wednesday" which demonstrated that with the huge amounts of money sloshing around the foreign exchanges, there is little that government intervention can achieve in these situations - a lesson that governments find difficult to learn.

The Treasury has a "Multi-Faith Prayer Room". This is kitted out with a shower, prayer mats and sandals, and had separate rooms for men and women. I wondered whether perhaps "multi-faith" meant sunni, shi'ite and sufi but there was also a bible on a table in the corner of the foyer.

Next to the bible, there was a copy of the Treasury's "Diversity Toolkit" which includes a number of icebreaker games with "facilitator" and "participants". The first is "Getting to know you bingo" with a "diversity bingo grid". Then there is an "Understanding Multiculturalism" exercise for which the materials required are "Flip chart, paper and pens, post-it notes" and begins "Write "MULTICULTURAL" on a flipchart". Reading this, I cannot escape recalling the scene on "Airplane" when the guy pours petrol on himself and takes out his cigarette lighter.

Another game is "Put Yourself in their Shoes" for which the materials include a blindfold, earplugs and a wheelchair. You can probably guess what is coming: e.g. Exercise 2,
Ask for a volunteer from each group to have their hearing restricted for 30 minutes. Ask them to put in the ear plugs until as much sound as possible is stopped. then the group should accompany the volunteer to the nearest newsagent, post office, bus stop or tube station and purchase something of their choosing.
I think I would be tempted to ask to go to one of those more comprehensive newsagents where they have a little pharmacy section, whisper that I have constipation, buy a bottle of castor oil and later pour it surreptitiously on the facilitator's rocket, parmesan and sundried tomato salad.

Reading through the "Diversity Glossary", I felt inclined to call "foul" several times:
Dogma - is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization (sic - my emphasis), thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.
I find that an unfairly negative and stereotypical description of "dogma" which, for me, is something sacred that we believe because it is revealed by God through Jesus Christ.

The look at this definition:
Sexism - discrimination against someone on the grounds of their gender and also is used to describe any type of differentiation based on sex.
"Any type of differentiation"? May Christians, Muslims and others not believe in and promote the family in which the woman is the mother and the man is the father?

Despite many well-meaning friends placing money with Paddy Power to keep my odds up for Archbishop of Westminster, I have to admit that odds of 16-1 are probably way in excess of the real probability of this happening. It is probably about as likely as my becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer for which I had a little practice. (When in office, my PR adviser will make sure that I do my jacket up and hold my stomach in.)

My first "initiative" would be to consult various family-friendly economists to restore some financial incentive to being married. To pay for this, I would also remove any government funding for sex-education, the distribution of condoms or the encouragement of abortion. This would save enormous amounts of money by removing some of the major incentives for young people to behave irresponsibly.

On returning home, I found that the post has brought me a good book that will help me greatly in my new vocation. More about that soon.
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