Duncan Bannatyne wrote a piece of ill-informed outrage over the new Equality Act for the Daily Mail which was taken apart superbly by Darren Newman, an employment expert. Whenever you are knowledgeable about a certain subject you suffer the misfortune of knowing how terribly poor the media coverage is of that subject – and I’m sure it must be frustrating for Darren that newspapers would rather turn to celebrity businessmen than a real expert just because that businessman happens to parrot the media narrative. Duncan Bannatyne has now been offered some space in the Telegraph in which to demonstrate his knack for tabloid-friendly soundbites backed-up with very little substance.
Thankfully Darren has taken the time to blog about some of the problems – bit-by-bit – over on his blog and it makes enlightening reading. I heartily recommend you go and read it, not just because it corrects Bannatyne, but because it is about much more than one person’s ignorance. His post covers media coverage in general because, after all, it is the media that seeks out ‘experts’ that fit their agenda and it is this process that essentially censors the truth from the reader. The conclusion of the blog post is extremely timely and important:
I feel slightly guilty to be focussing so much ire on Duncan Bannatyne. Really he’s a symptom, not the disease. The standard of debate around equality law in the mainstream media is dreadful. Almost nothing I read is a fair summary of the law and what employers need to know. Too often the news is hijacked by those with an agenda, who want to use the introduction of the Equality Act as a hook to hang their particular issue on. HR professionals and lawyers know better than to get their information from the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph – but line managers, business owners and employees are vulnerable to misleading information of his sort.
Ultimately we are all victims of tabloid disinformation and Bannatyne accidentally touches on this in his article when he complains that the Equality Act:
encourages staff to cast themselves in the role of victim, no matter how trivial their complaint, and that leaves employers badly exposed.
As Darren points out:
What encourages people to regard themselves as victims is ill informed press reporting of employment rights, raising entirely false expectations of their chances of success and the riches they will gain as a result. If individuals think that they can raise trivial and ludicrous points and that the employer will be guilty until proven innocent, then the question is why do they think that? Is it perhaps because people like Duncan Bannatyne and the papers giving him a platform have told them so?
The sad truth is that Bannatyne has been given two huge platforms for his poorly-informed and woefully researched views on the Equality Act whilst a real expert has been left to correct these common misconceptions (or deceptions) in their spare time to a vastly smaller audience. Until this changes people will continue to see the Equality Act as a bad thing.
People actually view an act designed to ensure fairness and equality to all, irrespective of disability, race, gender, sexuality or religion as a bad thing. What kind of warped world are we living in?