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Who appointed these men to speak for me?

A woman's view of the Newmark affair: we need more diversity

    Lack of diversity? Mick Davis, former chairman of the JLC
    Lack of diversity? Mick Davis, former chairman of the JLC

    Last week’s JC had a huge exclusive — as you doubtless know. But let me tell you what I thought when I read it and then looked at the pictures of all the trustees who knew, and chose not to publicise the affair. I immediately thought: this is typical, bloody men.

    There is much research to suggest that diversity benefits organisations, that the more diversity you have, the more diverse opinions there will be to share. And the more ways to benefit from better ideas or ways of looking at things.

    There is evidence that suggests employees feel more positive about organisations if they are more diverse and that turnover rates are lower. In their Why Diversity Matters report, Catalyst show that women in senior leadership are associated with better financial performance, corporate governance and less unethical behaviour. Mixed organisations mean less groupthink, less likelihood of everyone protecting their own.

    Let’s recap. All the trustees at the JLC (an organisation that proclaims that it “leads” the Jewish community) were white men. A white man then acted in a questionable way. What happened? The other white men protected him. No man blew the whistle.

    And that’s only part of it. These men were meant to represent the community, which — of course — is not just male. These were the people who decided that what was good for us was not to know if wrongdoing occurred. Who decided they spoke for me?

    The timing of this is awful. There is a huge problem with Jews, antisemitism and the Labour party, and throwing a rocket at the Jewish Labour Movement is not overly helpful. But that doesn’t mean the story shouldn’t have come out. It means it (with its embarrassing stereotypes of money and powerful men) should have come out at the time, and be long over by now.

    Ironically, I’m writing this anonymously because these powerful men are so important, I’m scared they could damage my career (I work within the community). That cannot be a good thing.

    If Jeremy Newmark had been a woman, do I believe that the JLC would have been so quick to excuse him, to let him continue to be a powerful voice speaking for us? I’m afraid I don’t. While this tale affects us all, let’s take note: the community is not just made up of men. It is time to move on.

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