Filling a Quota?


Working in theatre has opened my eyes a lot to diversity – or lack thereof might I say. There is such a lack of diversity yet when I was applying for jobs, every single application would contain a statement along the lines of;

‘We encourage people who identify as BAME and/or have a disability to apply for this role.’

This statement has always confused me, on the surface I use to think it was very inclusive and celebratory, it made me feel welcome- but the more I think about it, the more I feel it is just put there to prove the company isn’t racist or discriminatory. Like, for example back in the day when restaurants would have ‘no black people…’ signs in the front window, when this stopped they didn’t start putting ‘we encourage black people…’, they just simply took the sign down and that was that. Granted, this anecdote is probably a reach too far but the basis of it still applies. The whole ‘we want to show off how diverse we are’, which I also call ‘fake wokeness’ can be seen EVERYWHERE! White creatives are desperate to hire BAME people to basically fill a quota in my opinion, so they can tick it off their equal opps form and show how diverse their company is. Obviously I do not speak for the majority here – I know there are companies out there (if you dig deep) that hire BAME people because of their different approach to art, due to background and life experiences and THIS is the type of hiring that has a positive impact on the arts.

I don’t know if I am looking too much into it, but we see ‘quota filling’ all over the media, from the token black person in a far left hand corner of a movie poster, to the ‘Asian nerd’ in your favourite sitcom. These stereotype tokens are placed throughout media to represent the BAME community, when really; these shows don’t represent inclusivity at all – I think they make a mockery of it all together.

One may argue, having the token ‘ethnic person’ or statements encouraging BAME employment is great. It opens up opportunities for us and gets the word out there. All I know is that it has made me completely paranoid that I potentially got jobs in the past purely on my skin tone. There may have been a white individual who was a lot more skilled than me, but because I was the only ethnic minority in the roster, they had to hire me to make their team more diverse?

This is such problematic topic. I felt I just needed to write/rant about it and hear other people’s views.

Aliya x

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