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When all finish first everyone finishes last

By Louis O'Neill - posted Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Is there a lack of gender diversity in the workforce? Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau seems to think so.

On November 5th last year, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau revealed his political cabinet, which for the first time in political history was comprised of 50% women. When asked to reflect on the gender quota of his cabinet, Trudeau simply responded "it's 2015."

In similar gender parity efforts, Trudeau has recently been accompanied by the Australian multi-billion dollar oil company BHP Billiton, with the chief executive Andrew Mackenzie announcing his goal just last month to have half of the company's workforce occupied by women in 2025. Mackenzie voiced that he wishes to make "inclusion and diversity a greater priority." That sounds reasonable doesn't it?


Not to me it doesn't.

And yes, before you ask, I am indeed a straight white male. Upon reading this you may be thinking, "why should he get a say in what women do? He's just another narrow-minded sexist emerging from the shadows following the recent Trump presidency!"

Well this is precisely the problem. Due to my sexuality, gender and skin colour, my opinion has been nullified. All in the name of fighting prejudice.

Now I am not attempting to argue that there are too many women in these fields, as there clearly aren't many at all. My issue is instead this notion of fighting prejudice with prejudice, through this apparent confusion displayed by Trudeau, BHP and others in regards to the difference between equality and equity.

And what exactly is the difference you might ask?

Well imagine a race. Imagine that you are an athlete who has trained for months to enter this one race, win the prize money and buy yourself a new car.


In one scenario, your hard work pays off, you win the race and you take home the cash. This is equality.

Now imagine, that upon winning the race, instead of receiving your prize money, the money is divided equally amongst everyone who entered, even to those who came last and hadn't trained at all. This is equity.

You see, equality is based upon merit. Place each runner at the same starting point, and let nature take it's course. Those who run the fastest, will win the race. The beauty of this is that in the case of society, assuming that there is no discriminatory legislation in the workforce, those who study and work the hardest will reap the most reward. This is a classic libertarian argument for free-market capitalism. Laissez-faire, if you will.

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About the Author

Louis O'Neill is a writer from Sydney having graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Writing focusing on issues of philosophy, morality, religion and social commentary.

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