It seems that at the BBC, diversity is now defined by the absence of white men. The caption on the left, written by Ione Wells, appeared on the rolling news section of the BBC online on 6th September. The new Prime Minister of the UK, Liz Truss, had announced her four key cabinet positions and Ione was clearly delighted to find that it did not include a single (hawk, spit) white man.
According to the 2011 census, 87.2% of the population identified as white. Males constitute about 49% of the population so approximately 43% of the population is white and male. For that reason, the absence of white males from the key cabinet positions does not signal an increase in diversity.
In another key respect the cabinet has become less diverse. The overwhelming majority of members were privately educated. In the population as a whole, 7% attend private school but in Liz Truss’s cabinet the figure is 68%, up on the figure for Boris Johnson’s cabinet of 64% and well up from that in Theresa May’s cabinet of 30% (see figure below. There is also the dominance of Oxford University. Since 1940 every Prime Minister, except Labour PM Gordon Brown, was educated at Oxford University. Lizz Truss’s cabinet selection was very much business as usual unless you are the sort of person that thinks that the only identities that matter relate to the colour of your skin or the type of gonads you possess.
It is noteworthy that Ione Wells is an Oxford English Literature graduate (see Lit Crit Femsplainers) and it seems that the only sort of diversity she cares about relates to identity groups. The lack of diversity among journalists where Oxbridge humanities graduates are over-represented probably doesn’t concern her either. I am unsure of Ione Wells’s schooling but given it is not mentioned on her LinkedIn profile I suspect it was private (those with more humble credentials like to flaunt them to amplify their achievements).That members of the cabinet are over nine times more likely to have attended private school than the general population, probably wouldn’t concern Ione either.
I don’t care if Liz Truss has chosen a cabinet that does not reflect the diversity of the UK population. I do care about the BBC’s slanted take on that lack of diversity.