Highly Discriminating: why the City isn't fair and diversity doesn't work

Hosted by the Department of Sociology

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building


Dr Louise Ashley

Dr Louise Ashley

David Goodhart

David Goodhart

Professor Mark Williams

Professor Mark Williams


Professor Sam Friedman

Join us for this talk from Louise Ashley on her new book Highly Discriminating: Why the City isn’t Fair and Diversity Doesn’t Work.

Despite a narrative of merit, the City of London is characterised by persistent inequalities in its demographic make-up. Against this backdrop, Ashley asks - how does the City reproduce inequality despite an apparent commitment to objective merit, why do efforts to diversify fail to work – and crucially, who benefits?

Meet our speakers and chair

Louise Ashley (@drlouiseashley) is Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Queen Mary University of London. She specialises in researching diversity and inclusion in large multinational organisations and ‘elite’ occupations with a particular focus on social mobility and social class. Her book, Highly Discriminating: Why the City isn’t Fair and Why Diversity Doesn’t Work is published by Bristol University Press in 2022.

David Goodhart (@David_Goodhart) is Head of Policy Exchange's Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit and Director of the journalist. In 2017 he published The Road to Somewhere: the new tribes shaping British politics, about the value divides in western societies, which was a Sunday Times best-seller. In 2020 he published Head Hand Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century.

Mark Williams is a Professor of Human Resource Management in the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London. He previously held posts at the University of Surrey and LSE. Mark’s research uses survey data to explore disparities and trends in the quality of jobs in the United Kingdom—the subject of his 2020 book, Mapping Good Work.

Sam Friedman (@SamFriedmanSoc) is a Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published widely on class, culture and social mobility and recently co-authored The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged. He is also the author of Comedy and Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a 'Good' Sense of Humour and co-author of Social Class in the 21st Century. He is currently working on a new book (with Aaron Reeves) looking at the historical development of the British elite.

More about this event

The Department of Sociology (@LSEsociology) seeks to produce sociology that is public-facing, fully engaged with London as a global city, and with major contemporary debates in the intersection between economy, politics and society – with issues such as financialisaton, inequality, migration, urban ecology, and climate change.

At 8pm, once the event has concluded, there will be a drinks reception which is open to all.  This will take place just outisde the Sheikh Zayed Theatre.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSESociology

A podcast of this event is available to download from Highly Discriminating: why the City isn't fair and diversity doesn't work.

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