Differentiation and discrimination: Understanding social class and social exclusion in the UK’s leading law firms

Ashley, L. and Empson, L. (2013) Differentiation and discrimination: Understanding social class and social exclusion in the UK’s leading law firms. Human Relations, 66 (2). pp. 219-244. ISSN 0018-7267. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726712455833

Abstract

For leading law firms in the City of London, diversity and inclusion has become an important human resources strategy over the past 15 years. A recent focus on social class within the sector has been encouraged by increasing governmental concerns relating to social mobility, which acknowledge that elite professions, particularly the law, have become more socially exclusive over the past 30 years. Based on a detailed qualitative study of six leading law firms conducted between 2006 and 2010, this article asks: why do leading law firms discriminate on the basis of social class? It argues that discrimination is a response to conflicting commercial imperatives: the first to attract talent and the second to reduce risk and enhance image. The article describes these dynamics, emphasizing the role played by the ambiguity of knowledge. It argues that until these conflicting demands are reconciled, organizational and state-sponsored initiatives centred on the ‘business case’ for diversity may achieve only limited success.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: diversity and inclusion; inequality; law firms; professional services; social class
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Business School
Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Business School > Industrial Relations/HRM
Depositing User: Cathy Norman
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 14:17
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2013 13:10
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/30891 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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