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Who gets a seat at the table? What is the table?

I have been thinking a lot about diverse voices and representation.

Representation is important. Platforming, showcasing, promoting people that don't usually get coverage, changes the game.

It changes the game by drawing attention to, and therefore leading to, accolades. Accolades bring in business (usually), and media exposure does that too. And also, accolades, brings rewards and leads to more diverse leadership and people of authority.

Better articulated here:
If you're thinking how can we make the food world more diverse, here are somethings you can do.

But. But. It's not just about representation. Representation helps people dream and achieve. But, it doesn't directly address the systemic quietening of marginalised voices. To change that, you have to put money where your mouth is.

Have a diverse payroll. Pay people. Money shows confidence. Money shows value. PoC, and other 'others' have been doing the grunt work for so long. And giving exposure or a platform is not enough.

I was telling a friend (middle aged, middle class, white dude) about a show I liked - how diverse the people in were. As I started breaking it down, how the guest experts were a lot of WoC... he stopped me, "but Anna, the three hosts are white dudes. This is not diverse, the hosts are the ones this is about, which means they call the shots... [as much as tv hosts can, it is more an idea of control]" I realised I'd been so starved of representation I couldn't see that this was still a power dynamic - or lack of power. (Side note, some older white dudes are ok, some got your back 🙃)

To be brutal, the success of our current economic society is off the back of brown and black peoples bodies - from slavery, to indentured workers and colonialism. We can no longer just wheel in an 'other' voice, to add colour to a narrative, and pat backs for showcasing diversity.

This does not create equality, this does not create equity.

Because it doesn't change the narrative. We need diverse voices shaping narrative, building, extending stories beyond just being a face. We need to call the shots, not just dream of being seen as experts.

What narrative? What is a narrative?

This is not a dig simply at media. This is about businesses in general. This is about professionalism, careers and livelihood. ALL organisations have stories to tell, and those stories and strategies need to have a diverse workforce to be part of the core business' driving force.

So, it's pretty simple. Hire, pay and give credit to diverse people. Don't just use our expertise, dangle 'exposure' and platform in front of us... value us as equals and part of the power systems.

*this doesn't mean I'm against working for free, if everyone is in it together. I have a lot of passion projects, which pay in different ways.


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