Today I’m talking bullshit. Or, more precisely, Bullshit Jobs. 

That was the title of an influential 2018 book by anthropologist David Graeber, which argued that many jobs today serve no useful purpose at all: from roles that exist to stroke senior execs’ egos, to those that serve solely to make “busy work” for others.  

We’ve all encountered people doing pointless jobs. If we’re honest, we might admit we’ve done ‘em ourselves. But today it’s not just jobs that are bullshit, but everything to do with creating, managing and evaluating them.

Today’s trend for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI / DEI) is a perfect example of the current mania for manure in many workplaces today. The EDI sector claims “diversity” is self-evidently a public good, and they’ve got the studies to prove it. For instance, a 2021 report by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) claimed “gender diversity of FTSE350 boards correlates with better future financial performance.” If you actually analyse the studies, though, they show no such thing. To use the technical term: it’s bullshit.

We’re all for removing obstacles that bar women, ethnic minorities, the disabled and other under-represented people from particular industries, or the workforce in general. Our issue is with using bogus statistics to push dubious and ideologically-driven EDI initiatives. 

It’s easy to paint EDI as the villain of the piece, but really it’s a symptom of a much deeper malaise: the reluctance to evaluate the benefits of “socially valuable” initiatives. Nowhere is this more apparent than in public sector procurement.

… no one is measuring the benefits of these initiatives, still less the costs.

As we’ve pointed out, the Social Value Act requires companies applying for government contracts to show how their bids will deliver “social value”. Yet no one is measuring the benefits of these initiatives, still less the costs to businesses and, of course, the taxpayer. The Campaign for Fair Procurement recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to the National Audit Office, which provides good practice guidance for public procurement. Their reply: “The NAO does not provide a quantitative record of social value measurements or outcomes in public procurement.”

Read the full article at The Critic.