Musings: Equality and Diversity

The Boss at The Work forced the entire team to go on a half-day Equality and Diversity training course yesterday. I wonder if maybe she was trying to tell us something? Normally I hate these things. I’m certain that after being brought up in a country like the UK I have an idea of what is, or isn’t socially acceptable. I might spout the occasional racist, homophobic or disablist (is that even a word) comment, but that’s more to do with shock value than any ingrained dislike of any particular group.

The first part of the session was by far the most interesting part. We were presented with a fairly simple thought experiment designed to highlight our presumptions and ingrained stereotypes and to show how these influence our thinking.

The Exercise

It has been decided to send a group of people to a recently discovered island where they will live an isolated existance for the next fifty years in order to create a new society. The following twenty people have volunteered, but the ship can only take twelve people.

  1. Trade Union Representative In A Factory
  2. Nineteen Year Old Shop Assistant
  3. Nigerian Doctor
  4. Grandmother With Arthritis
  5. Ex-Cabinet Minister
  6. Afghan Refugee
  7. Black Professional Footballer
  8. Sixty year old Army Sergeant
  9. Peace Campaigner
  10. Barman
  11. School Cook
  12. Pregnant Teenager
  13. Unemployed Black Teenager
  14. School Crossing Patrol Officer
  15. Retired Joiner
  16. Gay Nurse
  17. Physics Professor
  18. Bank Clerk Who Is In A Wheelchair
  19. Farm Labourer
  20. Jazz Musician

It’s up to you to pick, based on these brief descriptions, twelve people to help you forge a new society out of nothing. The rest of the exercise revolves around discussion of the reasoning for picking, or not picking the various individuals. Naturally a lot of these decisions came down to practicality: a doctor is a doctor regardless of nationality, skin colour or creed. It did however highlight some more subtle stereotypes and presumptions. For example how many people read that list and assumed that the Unemployed Black Teenager was male? Most, if not all, of you probably did. Equally it’s fairly natural to assume that a School Cook will be a woman and that, for whatever ingrained reason, a peace campaigner will be a young, unkempt, middle-class Englishman with dreadlocks and facial piercings.

Have a think about it for now, and I’ll post up my list, with reasons, in a couple of days.

3 Responses to “Musings: Equality and Diversity”


  1. 1 Miss Miaw November 20, 2010 at 22:28

    It has been decided to send a group of people to a recently discovered island where they will live an isolated existance for the next fifty years in order to create a new society. The following twenty people have volunteered, but the ship can only take twelve people.

    It doesn’t say that you’re going with them, you could be signing up 12 human bagages to be rid of for a generation or two.


  1. 1 Musings: The List « GreyKodiak Trackback on November 20, 2010 at 17:05

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