I’m a woman of colour. DEI is just woke indoctrination

Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities
Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities,

This week, the Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch launched another of her eviscerating interventions on overzealous diversity and inclusion drives. Criticising proposals by regulators in the financial sector, she said such drives represent “a regulatory overreach” based on limited evidence. Among the proposals that were challenged was the requirement to compel firms to gather data based on people’s gender identity, which would not be “in accordance with the Equality Act” that cements sex and gender reassignment as protected characteristics.

Badenoch is not alone in her concerns that a well-meaning push to mandate diversity and inclusion within workplaces could be “counterproductive” and detrimental to employees, particularly members of minority groups that the initiatives are meant to support. According to a report by the Free Speech Union published in March, 36% of employees witnessed colleagues being penalised for challenging Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training. 31% stated leaving a job because of their employer’s promotion of ideology.

Sharing the findings, Thomas Harris, Director of Data and Impact stated: “There is no evidence the current approach is making Britain’s offices more welcoming, friendlier places to work, and plenty of evidence that it is turning them into a hostile environment, particularly for minorities and those who do not subscribe to woke ideology.”

These pitfalls are not theoretical for me because I have lived through them. I used to be a frontline worker supporting women recovering from crack cocaine and heroin addiction. These are some of the kindest and most courageous women I have ever met. Like so many of us, they struggled to cope when life got tough and took a bad turn. This was a difficult position, but I loved my job because I care deeply about the women.

A few months in, senior management invited me to the organisation’s EDI group. Being from the Dominican Republic, I was one of the few immigrants and women of colour within the organisation, so perhaps they assumed I would feel flattered. Yet the second I read the email I was filled with a deep sense of dread. I expressed my hesitation that EDI groups tend to exist to ensure ideological compliance and cohesiveness.

I heard many statements I disagreed with, but I rarely objected because I broadly believe that being open-minded about divergent views is the bedrock of democracy. Unfortunately, this tolerance was not a two-way street. Soon enough, the group sought to mandate employees to request pronoun declarations from the service users. Aside from being compelled speech, this was the least of the concerns of the women I supported. They were worried about escaping dangerous drug dealers, homelessness and exploitation. When I questioned this, I was informed that “gender critical beliefs” (that sex is real and material to everybody’s lives) were not welcomed at this women’s service. The organisation’s “trans-inclusive” position seemed to supersede everything else, including the women it was supposed to be helping.

From that point on, I felt isolated. The organisation could not fire me, because I had not done anything wrong, and I couldn’t quit because I depended on that position to pay my rent and groceries. I still can’t help but wonder how many people like me – who believe sex is real and relevant – are made to feel unwelcome in large organisations, and suffer in silence.

There is nothing inclusive about making an immigrant feel unwelcome in her job because she understands that sex is real and relevant to the women-only service she was hired to provide.  There is nothing diverse about forcing despotic ideologies on vulnerable women. The Stasi-wannabees running EDI meetings demonstrate that acceptance cannot be compelled, least of all by authoritarian bullies at the top.