Backlash: is it good for diversity and inclusion (D&I)?

Media releases

The 2019 Diversity Council Australia and MLC Life Insurance Debate will ask: Is backlash good for diversity and inclusion (D&I)?

The Debate will be held in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday 29 October and will be moderated by journalist and host of ABC TV’s Q&A, Tony Jones.

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese, says this year’s Debate will be of interest to anyone agitating for change, and especially D&I professionals in the workplace:

“Many of us working in D&I will be no stranger to resistance against D&I initiatives, especially from those with a vested interest in the status quo. But is a strong negative reaction such a bad thing? Does it start a valuable conversation that means people are listening and might change their minds?

“On the other hand, does backlash mean people will never agree or get on board? Or could it mean that D&I programs are not being implementing well enough?

“Either way, our 2019 Debate will be a fascinating evening,” says Lisa.

On the Affirmative team:

Kirsty Webeck, comedian suggests "Backlash is an integral part of public discourse. It allows people to debate different facets of an issue while being exposed to perspectives that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to hear.”

David Hackett, Chief Executive Officer, MLC Life Insurance says “At MLC Life Insurance, I believe that we make better decisions when we leverage diverse views and ideas from across our business.  We don’t expect or want consensus.  Divergent perspectives give us a full view of important issues, and informs how we can move forward together.  Strong and divergent views expressed respectfully, combined with a clear framework of accountability, are the hallmarks of a learning organization.”

Jan Fran, Journalist and TV Presenter argues:  "They say all truth passes through three stages: First, it's ridiculed, then it's violently opposed. Then it's accepted as self-evident. Backlash is stage two. If we didn't have backlash, we wouldn't end up with the truth."

In contrast, on the Negative team:

Chas Licciardello, comedian / The Chaser says “As a member of The Chaser I've experienced my share of backlash. Let me tell you, it doesn't lead to reaching out, group hugs and campfire sing-alongs - it leads to defensiveness, anger and the determined search for square-ups. If you don't believe me check out America since 'Golden Escalator Day' in April 2015. I could use a lot of words to describe developments over there since The Backlash began in earnest, but I don't think "diversity" or "inclusion" would feature on the list!”

Jackie Huggins AM, Historian and Author says “Over many decades attempts have been made to entice the concept of diversity as a good thing, with and without success.  Unless you are a member of a target group, seems to me, no one cares.  Is this right for humanity?”

Chris Varney, MD and Chief Enabling Officer, I CAN Network argues “In the 21st century backlash should no longer be seen as a necessary path to achieving inclusion and human rights. In a world where primary school children are well versed on human rights principles, naysayers just need to be told to 'get with the program’.”

For full details of the event, visit http://diversitydebate.dca.org.au/. Panellists are available for interview. The debate results will be available after the event.

​Download the media release.

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