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Scratch the Surface of DEI and it Crumbles

DEI agendas are hurting organisations, and we are hesitant to admit it. Companies went down the rabbit hole of diversity without understanding what it means starting with studies that warn about the drawbacks of diversity to organisational actions that go against their agendas. It's a kind of mess I never wanted to be part of! I stay away from everything related and here is why. 

It's widely accepted that discriminating against someone based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is illegal and I am all for that! Nobody in the right mind would argue that. This is how it must be! However, when individuals are given preferential treatment in the workplace (or school admissions) because of these characteristics, it's often termed 'diversity and inclusion.' This approach can be seen as contradictory. Favouring candidates based on these criteria implies that others are intentionally disadvantaged for the same reasons. Imagine being told you were not hired or promoted because you didn't fit a specific demographic for a role based on the quotas you were otherwise qualified for.

I am not interested in DEI conversations organisations push until at least we start talking about diversity in this way. Read here. 

When we start looking at DEI agendas we quickly realise that they are divisive and discriminatory, they favour external appearance as opposed to valuable internal ones, which shrinks your talent pool, they also lower performance because now you are recruiting based on sex, nationality, height, weight or what have you.... 

I don't think companies should be talking about diversity, equality, and inclusion when they:

  • Ask during interviews where you live, if you have a family (for salary package considerations), where you are from, whether you are pregnant, why you want to move, or if you have any disabilities.

  • Have specific criteria for looks, such as being slim, tall, pretty, blond, etc.

  • Create potential apartheid with their HiPo programs.

  • Implement nationalization programs (positions only for locals).

  • Specify gender or race ratios.

  • Prepare budgets based on nationalities, allocating costs differently for certain nationalities (yes, we do that).

  • Refuse to consider the homeless and other disadvantaged groups as potential talent pools. We tend to be very selective of who we want to include. 

  • Neglect to provide food in the staff canteen that caters to employees from the African continent, despite this group being introduced to the workforce in large numbers since Covid (here in the UAE). I have asked multiple times, "How are we adjusting our menu since we have a new group of people to cater to?" but I never received an answer.

Here's the thing: I can understand and support each of the above actions individually. However, what I cannot support is companies promoting the DEI agenda on social media while engaging in the above behaviours. This is contradictory, as all of these actions are exclusive. So, who exactly are we including? Certain groups? But that's not inclusive or diverse, is it?

I have heard it many times, "We need to hire a woman" so we did and paraded her around in KSA like a zoo animal saying "Our first female...." I found it absolutely disgusting. As if it was an extraordinary achievement because women cannot run a hotel or do the same as men in the workplace (not physical jobs). It was belittling for women and I was sorry for her. The same applies to all other characteristics! 

Chubby people can provide an excellent guest experience (I proved it with my intern. They asked me to remove her from the reception desk and I showed them the reviews she got from guests). People with different sexual orientations can do the same job and so on. You get the drill, right? None of these characteristics we are trying to separate has any influence on how one does the job. Hire for competence because that is what you need at work. And when you do that you realise all of those protected characteristics and everyone else has competence you just have to find them. 

Diversity agendas fail very quickly in every other part of the world apart from the woke west. Why don't we tell the Japanese they should have more white, black or other Asians in the workforce? Try and do that in Eastern Europe too and see what happens. Diversity is not only in colour, age, sexual orientation etc. You have so much diversity within one colour, one gay community, one age group or one gender group. Why are we so reluctant to see that? Do we want to say that the African continent is not diverse because they are all Africans? Do we want to make the claim that Eastern Europe or Asia is not diverse because they are "all" white or Asians? Why don't we tell Nepal they need a little more diversity in their workforce?

Please, make it make sense! Excluding people is not diversity or inclusion, it is the opposite. We can include people and their needs in many ways like not hiring them for being gay, women, men, or different colors. What do you think it does to their self-esteem? I am hired because I am a woman, a local national etc. and not because I am capable of doing a great job. Is there anything more degrading? Treat people with respect regardless of their characteristics that is what inclusion is. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:

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