Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch Takes Aim at Equality Initiatives – Yes, Really

In a recent address, UK Business Secretary and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch criticized what she describes as the “creeping politicisation” of businesses through diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Speaking to an audience, Badenoch, donned in a black blazer and white top, expressed her belief that companies should prioritize business over political activism.

Badenoch’s comments followed a report from Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank, which suggested that the British public feels businesses are overly focused on political activism. A Deltapoll survey cited in the report found that 50% of respondents believe businesses are “too concerned with taking political positions on contested issues,” with only 14% disagreeing. Furthermore, 75% of those surveyed believe hiring should be based on merit, not race or gender, to create a diverse team.

The Policy Exchange report, part of its Politicising Business project, highlighted several instances where businesses have engaged in activism. Examples included NatWest’s “debanking” of Nigel Farage, Ben & Jerry’s criticism of UK asylum policies, and a Costa Coffee van featuring an illustration of a transgender person post-top surgery.

Badenoch supported these findings, stating, “The public wants businesses to focus on delivering great products and services, not on activism or political causes, which can be divisive.”

Her remarks have sparked a significant debate, with supporters agreeing that businesses should stay out of political issues, while critics argue that DEI initiatives are crucial for creating inclusive and fair workplaces.

The minister’s stance has highlighted a broader conversation about the role of businesses in social issues, challenging companies to balance their social responsibilities with their business goals.