Does Diversity Work for London?
Just imagine that you work in a building that’s chrome and glass. Your colleagues are as dedicated and professional as you, but they are all wearing corporate attire. When you leave work you eat in a restaurant – good food, but it’s part of a chain. When you go home, your flat is a part of a new development – everything works perfectly but functionality has won over character. When you look out of the window you see more buildings of chrome and glass. Does this environment provide the best conditions for creative problem-solving?
My second job out of school was working on a site with scientists. I recall being told that particular attention was paid to the grounds, as it was recognised that they wanted to “re-create the dreaming spires of Cambridge”. They knew that their people needed to look out on something beautiful in order to achieve their full potential as scientific and technical problem-solvers.
London is losing its diversity, and for a city to be successful it needs to be diverse. A few years ago I was called in to help a customer whose business was providing care homes for elderly people. All of their residents where white people, mainly over 80 years old, but all of their carers were black, mainly African, women. The care homes were based in the Home Counties, and none of the carers could afford to live near where they worked. In fact, many of them lived several miles away. They got to work by bus, and because they couldn’t afford the train, some of them were travelling three hours to do a double shift before they got into work. My customer told me that there was no way they could find white people who lived locally to do care work. “White people who live around here do not want to wipe ars*s,” she very pointedly told me. Any small business owner who needs to employ staff on the minimum wage or near it will recognise this problem.
Of course we need better transport, and of course we need affordable homes, but what we’re getting at the moment is flats that are out of the reach of people on average incomes and transport that is too expensive for many to use.
I’ve used public transport in the capital all my life. I get really excited when a new scheme is announced. My life as a consultant has always involved travelling around the country at strange times of the day and night and I’m aware of how antiquated our rail network is, but I’m also worried about London losing its diversity.
Diversity makes London roar. We have literally hundreds of different first languages. If you have any interest in foreign food, you can find authentic cuisine from all corners of the globe, plus the ingredients to cook it – and most probably someone to give you some first-hand tips on getting the recipe right.
The cultural diversity of our city feeds creativity. It is essential for our artists, actors, musicians – the creative people who make our city special to live in and worth visiting. But it’s also necessary for the people who work in finance, technology or computing – anyone who needs to come up with ideas needs to have their senses fed by diversity.
The financial diversity that the capital is losing has an obvious impact on the equality target groups. But in terms of the LGBT communities that live, work or socialise in the capital, very little has been written about the effect the city’s changes are having on this segment of the mix.
I’m currently analysing opinions on London’s disappearing LGBT scene.
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