Highly Discriminating
Why the City Isn’t Fair and Diversity Doesn’t Work

6: Diversity and Diffusion


Having explained why the City is not fair, Part II of the book turns to why diversity and social mobility agendas implemented in response do not achieve their stated aims. This starts in Chapter 6 by tracing the introduction of the diversity and inclusion agenda (called here ‘diversity’) in the City during the late 1990s and into the 2000s. It argues that diversity’s widespread take-up, and the use of the business case, can be explained less as a result of its proven efficacy in addressing persistent inequalities, and more as a result of diffusion, imitation and corporate fashion. Once again, this suggests a key driver was legitimacy in relation to which the primary challenge posed by evidence of unequal outcomes was how firms could manage associated reputational threats. The chapter shows why the business case is a ‘busted flush’ and explains how diversity has managed pressures toward inclusivity and associated costs, resulting in a largely cosmetic effect. For the most part, this project is not strategically planned, and relies on the work of many City workers, often in quite ‘ordinary’ jobs, who do the work of legitimation on behalf of elites, albeit inadvertently perhaps.

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