DIVA: The Unsatisfactory Response

Readers who have been following this saga will recall that  Robert Halfon MP has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for DIVA, a glossy magazine, “to drop  its discriminatory policy of refusing to employ people who lack `an independent budget'”. A statement has now been made by Millivres Prowler Group, the publishers of DIVA, in response to the EDM. While I am pleased that the company decided to make a statement, the one made is unsatisfactory. This is mainly due to what is left out but also due to factual errors contained within the statement.

There are key omissions in the statement:

Omission 1

The statement from the Company simply does not deal with the main charge.  It has totally ignored commenting upon what the  EDM has said is a “discriminatory policy of refusing to employ people who lack `an independent budget'”. For this reason alone, it is unsatisfactory.  The company has done exactly what I thought that they might do: sidestep this important issue and simply fail to deal with it.

Omission 2

There is no explanation why the Company took nearly a month (June 2 to June 29) to respond to Simone’s request for expenses or whether her age was a problem. This delay is relevant as Simone was due to start the internship on July 1. A prompt response, even if it were a rejection, could have provided Simone with an important amount of time to try and find a different internship for the month of July.

Omission 3

The statement does not mention that the magazine has had at least two other interns in the recent past have been sixteen years old and hence the excuse about Simone waiting until she was 18 to carry out an internship is inconsistent with known practices.

The statement also contains factual errors:

Factual Error 1

The Statement:

“Jane Czyzselska, replied to Ms Webb to say a slot was likely from 1st July.”

The Truth:

The reply did not say that “a slot was likely.”  An offer was made for an internship from July 1. The exact response was as follows: “Nice to hear from you. We’d love to offer you an internship for the month of July starting on the 1st?”

Factual Error 2

The Statement:

Jane Czyzselska said that the company “would be in touch nearer the time to confirm details.”

The Truth:

It was Simone who said that she would be in touch nearer the time, not Jane Czyzselska. Specifically, in her grateful acceptance of the offer, Simone said: “I’ll make sure I get in touch nearer the time to confirm dates, etc.”

It can also be noted that the Statement contains a very bold sentence:

For the record, DIVA has a clear and socially responsible policy for work experience placements and for internships which include consideration of expenses and also the age and circumstances of each applicant.

One wonders what this “clear and socially responsible policy” actually is. Does it include the ability to discriminate against poor people?