From Sainsbury’s to Specsavers, popular British brands have scrambled to signify their allegiance to all things woke. This virtual signalling can take the form of anything from boycotting GB News to launching an “LGBT” sandwich. In order to prove their credibility on these matters, companies have sought consultants’ advice to make their workplaces as progressive as possible. Capitalising on this trend is the equality, diversity and inclusion business.
Taxpayers are funding over £1 million worth of guidance on issues like gender-neutral spaces, pronouns, and transgender inclusion
One such organisation that profits from this movement is Stonewall, through their controversial “Diversity Champions” scheme which claims to ensure that “all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace.” Now it may be perfectly reasonable for a private company to spend its own profits in this way. The real problems start when public bodies get in on the act.
Unfortunately for taxpayers, this craze has vigorously swept through our public institutions. So much so that each year, taxpayers are funding over £1 million worth of guidance on issues like gender-neutral spaces, pronouns, and transgender inclusion as part of the “Diversity Champions” programme. At least 327 publicly funded groups were signed up to the scheme (at an average cost of around £3,500), but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Members of the programme are entitled to advertise their status by using the logo on their websites. But like a low-cost airline, the real money-spinner comes from the additional, encouraged extras. These take the form of specific events, workshops, webinars, training programmes, and conferences Stonewall subscribers are invited to sign up to. All round a very lucrative package for this campaigning group.
We know students are at the forefront of woke politics, so it isn’t surprising that over two thirds of UK universities had signed up to the scheme. Goldsmith’s even hired a £396 Stonewall speaker for their “Queering Children’s Literature” event. Stonewall’s influence and access to this sector is considerable, and it was being subsidised by the taxpayer.
Once graduates leave campuses, ideas that take hold during their studies can soon spread to other public institutions they subsequently work in. The NHS and their related bodies gave Stonewall £466,065 over three years, with a total of 58 health service organisations paying into the Diversity Champions scheme. Examples include South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust handing over £1,620 for the privilege to attend an “Unconscious Bias Training the Trainer” workshop. With social care funding the topic of heated national debate and demands for a more generous NHS pay rise, one would think health trusts would forgo such events in order to focus funding on frontline care – nevermind the fact the government itself has admitted that unconscious bias training doesn’t work.
Political decision making is distorted, and public money is used to promote controversial causes
Most of Whitehall is signed up too. The former Foreign and Commonwealth Office gave the most of any government department to the Diversity Champions scheme alongside supplementary events, training programmes, and conferences at a total cost of £19,012. The House of Commons spent £5250 on the Trans Allies Programme, taking their total payment to Stonewall to £19,463. Even the Bank of England attended conferences and webinars alongside their membership to the scheme totalling £6,778.
Handing over funding to an organisation like Stonewall might seem righteous at first, but there is a real danger here. We have reached a point where the lobbyists are being bankrolled by those they’re lobbying. Political decision making is distorted, and public money is used to promote controversial causes with which most of the public may disagree. Taxpayer funded campaigning like this simply has to stop.
Of course, these sums might seem small relative to the cost of covid or the current government’s gargantuan spending programme. But when we are repeatedly told by government departments and public organisations that there is no more fat to trim, we should take their appeals with a pinch of salt. Because even without an unprecedented pandemic to pay for, not a single penny of public money should not be funnelled into taxpayer funded lobbying. The more time we spend on this maddening merry go round, the harder it will be to get off.
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