I read with some alarm a Sunday newspaper article suggesting that an attitude of opposing any form of liberalism could be deemed to be racist. The writer was referring to the changing shop front landscape of Woolwich. I personally dont know Woolwich, having only visited a client there once. However, the issue at hand was not his (the writers) reference to Woolwich alone but the swift allegation that he could not accept that certain shops had disappeared, shops that he considered to be traditional and based on childhood memories.
As a starter, what the writer / reporter failed to take into account is the changing nature of business both globally and nationally. From a national perspective giant super market chains have robbed towns and cities of local shopping facilities.
His focus of concern also highlighted how traditional British shops were now limited, citing 4 out of the 40 he visually surveyed. His particular gripe suggested an ethnic influx could be responsible. His statements suggested that he could not appreciate the changing nature of the world. I wonder if people thought the same about the Irish or the Jews when they first entered the UK hundreds of years ago. People have to start or rebuild their lives somewhere or perform a migration. Interestingly he didnt appear to say a word against MacDonalds, Pizza Hut or Starbucks, i.e: Or, what many people describe as possible Amercianisation.
This brings me on to the topic of the need to accept diversity as an essential feature of life. Although many organisations suggest that there is strength to be gained from a diverse workforce, do they actually practice what they preach? For example, how many high profile roles are occupied that compare to the diverse community that exists around or within a firm. An interesting contraction is now evident: We should tell the writer of the original article that there are many that try to make good in their community by running their own little businesses. One only has to look at the power or should I say the fuel that a once immigrant work force brings to a nations economy creating wealth, jobs and therefore contributing to financial stability of the country.
Ironically a recent article in The Economist suggested that Southall in West London now represented the next generation of landlords, effectively by becoming even bigger landlords than their predecesors. For example, many of todays landlords are expanding their original shops by further subdividing them into units for rent Therefore, implying that yesterdays shopkeepers / tenants are todays landlords! The question to ask is whether their attitudes have changed in terms of money or fairplay?.
Although European and national policies appear to be rightly hot on Health and Safety training and equality in the workplace, there appears to be a lack of sensitivity and priority given to diversity training. Diversity training is up and coming but more innovative and non-patronising techniques need to be developed.
In summary, there is a need to recognise that if the world around us changes, so will our neighbourhoods, becoming more vibrant, dynamic and fun to be part of.