The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is seeking re-election, has created some emotional conflict within me, mainly one of credibility regarding the claim for inclusion and equality. It bothers me a lot because, as an intelligent black woman, I ADORE Boris Johnson, though I have never been a party animal.
I must have been one of the few people, five years ago on his election, who thought he would be excellent, because I have found in my experience, that those who might act the clown mask an awful lot in sincerity and awesomeness. I couldn't wait for him to get into the job. And, in many respects, he has not disappointed.
But, the stark reality is that London has at least 35% minority ethnic communities. It is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world; it's diversity in both language and culture is breathtaking. It's is a vibrant magnetic place which draws talent and curiosity from all over he world. Yet, to see the Mayor's team is to believe that London is all-white, which is surprising, to say the least, and patronising, at its worst.
The top team of Mayor and deputy mayors (5) are ALL WHITE, with a token white woman among them. How is that possible to represent a multicultural city? Surely, at least TWO of those deputies should be from minority ethnic groups to give a fair representation? Worse still, the bid for the Olympic games was made on the very ethnic diversity of London, which is not at all reflected by this top team.
Some pertinent observations
The team of Directors (3) below the mayoral officers are all MALE, with a nod to one Asian man.
After that, the team of Mayoral Advisors (8) are almost all white again, with the exception of another token Asian woman.
British Blacks are nowhere to be seen in this august team of 15 top people who represent multicultural London and, even worse, not a single black woman can be seen anywhere. Yet, at least 30% of this team should have represented the diversity of our capital.
How can a mayor preside over such a diverse city, yet have a virtual monocultural team, then talk about celebrating diversity and ensuring equality at the same time? That is so wrong on all levels.
First, it gives the most powerful message that only white Londoners have talent and experience enough to hold the highest administrative offices.
Second, it makes a whole swathe of people virtually invisible in the administrative process and - most important - deprives them of a voice.
Third, it pays lip service to equality and diversity especially when the examples are not set from the very top, and the words are clearly not matching the deeds.
Fourth, and even worse, it shows the lip service paid to diversity management as a whole, and the lack of expertise in implementing such diversity at the very top of the hierarchy to give substance to the message the Mayor aspires to. When we lack a diverse vision it is easy to see only our narrow view.
If minorities have no voice at the very top, how can their needs be addressed adequately? More important, by its administrative composition, how is the mayor's office representing all of London and not just certain sectors? Yet it takes the votes of a diverse London to re-elect the mayor. It isn't words or intentions that show sincerity or deliver objectives. It's the actions, the little things that show people their value, that really make the difference.
In January 2012, the report "Equal Chances for All", was published by the Mayor. Fine words as usual on the ideal of equality, though the fact that this report bore no relation to what was happening at the top of his hierarchy was lost on the people who published it. The Mayor cannot shout a message of inclusion while practising one of exclusion where it matters most. It really would present a problem of credibility, which it is doing now. A doubt that says: How can an intentionally inclusive mayor preside over such an exclusive team without the merest twinges of hypocrisy?
I really do admire Boris, the person, and would be the first to campaign on his behalf to keep him in office. But, Boris the administrator leaves me cold, because with Black women playing no part on his team, it is very difficult to show respect and appreciation to someone who clearly shows you none, and to whom you are invisible.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads.