Friday, 15 May 2009

Open Handed Business

Canterbury City Council are being lambasted for not encouraging enough Pink Tourism. The Council say they are. Why, last year they ...”held a gay open day at the council offices which was widely advertised – including in the gay press – well attended by more than 40 people”.
So, not that well attended then. Apparently they have also contributed “money help and the use of facilities”. Almost any pub gathering would roar with laughter at the implications. And they would be wrong to do so, pandering to the gutter humour that finds itself adorning toilet doors. So should the Council spend money and try to promote minority interests in any way possible? That is a moot point also. Strapped for cash as they all seem to be, should they not concentrate on the major concerns?
Legislation is being passed which will insist that positive discrimination should become the rule in all walks of business and public life. The problems that solves – inclusion it’s called, is probably outweighed by the unfairness and automatic discrimination of the majority.
Luckily there are some people around with sense. Political Parties that have decided to have a women only short list for parliamentary candidates have found their electorate would rather have the best person for the job, regardless of their gender. Police forces who have been instructed that they must recruit a certain number of officers from identifiably minority groups have found that they do not have many willing to come forward and are always going to be below quota.
Equally, or unequally one might say, those councils who have banned the use of terms which might upset some minority are made the subject of laughter at the “PC Brigade running riot”.
So are they or aren’t they? It seems that while any sort of social discrimination is unfair, as is bullying, in the workplace or at school or in the street, so too then is any attempt to do down any particular group. That means positive discrimination is also wrong; and unfair.
The fact that there is an imbalance of any group in business or in public life is probably a reflection of historical attitudes or cultural preferences or physical attributes. Over a period of time education and the sway of opinion will change. We no longer have the humour that was perfectly acceptable 30 years ago. We no longer have bear baiting either. Anyone should be paid the same money for doing the same work. That is agreed. If it isn’t so, then we should examine why and if confirmed then it should be corrected.
If the opportunities are fair but the imbalance remains that is probably all right. In business the legislation is there for anyone discriminating. It is there to stop unfair dismissal. It is there for all manner of dangerous and unfair practices. Employer beware. Unfortunately there are people around who are determined to take an unfair advantage and that means the position is defended at great cost and risk or they are paid off as a practical measure. That encourages his/her mate down the pub to try it on also.
Individual preference should be applauded and promoted. What has been done in the past may not be what we deem to be fair or in order nowadays. But it cannot be changed. If an historic building is not accessible then that is regrettable but just how it is. If it is practical to make some changes that allow anyone with a disability to gain access then let us do that.
The whole of society should support the freedoms of the United Kingdom. This includes the right to be yourself so long as it doesn’t ruin anyone else’s right to be themselves. It includes the freedom to set up a business that caters for a minority interest, so long as you don’t mind dealing with others. It can’t be illegal and it can’t be offensive either and this is where the trouble started.
If it is wrong to force anyone to adopt certain customs then just what is acceptable? Open market democracy voting with its feet is probably the best judge and jury. If it doesn’t cater for enough people it will soon go out of business. It’s always been like that and it works. The bus is taken off if no one uses it. The shop closes if it is in the wrong place. The politicians get voted out if they don’t live up to expectations and their promises. The house prices are low if no one wants to live there.
As for Canterbury Council being accused of not having a gay bar in the town.... Perhaps the investment opportunity for pink tourists hasn’t seemed attractive enough to anyone, gay or otherwise. The question should really be – are there any bars in Canterbury that discriminate against gay people?
It is apparent that they don’t have any Welsh language signs. Will anyone Welsh in the locality of Canterbury please write to the council and demand an explanation.
If you want your business to weave its way successfully through the legislative minefield and if you would like to examine the market for your product or service you should get an outside view from professional consultants. Spend a little to gain an edge with Bob Shepherd Associates.

No comments:

Post a Comment