by Kristina Murkett
Tuesday, 13
December 2022
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Azadeh Moshiri exposes the flaws of diversity schemes

A superficial focus on race ignores a more important element: class
by Kristina Murkett
Azadeh Moshiri

As a teacher, it can often be difficult to explain irony to students, but this weekend I found a fitting example. Azadeh Moshiri, senior journalist for BBC World News, said her career would never have happened without the help of the John Schofield Trust, a charity mentoring scheme to improve access to journalism. The irony? Moshiri’s father is Farhad Moshiri, owner of Everton FC and worth an estimated £2.4billion, while her mother is Nazenin Ansari, a journalist who has worked for the BBC, Sky News and CNN.

The trust has made clear that, at the time of Azadeh Moshiri’s acceptance onto the scheme, its aim was to support all young journalists, regardless of social class, and that it only switched its focus to become a “social mobility charity” a year later in 2019. Still, as the Telegraph has pointed out, the organisation was publicly calling for social mobility in the industry before this supposed shift. The fact that Moshiri was considered a suitable candidate for consideration proves once again that discussions about diversity without class are effectively meaningless.


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Journalism is one of the most socially exclusive industries in the UK: 80% of journalists come from parents with managerial or professional backgrounds, compared to 42% of all UK workers — an increase from 2016 (72%). Just 7% of the population is privately educated and yet this contingent makes up 44% of newspaper columnists and 43 of the top 100 most influential news editors and broadcasters.

Family links matter in journalism. Henry Deedes, a sketch writer and reviewer for the Daily Mail, is the son of Jeremy Deedes, the former Chief Executive of the Telegraph, who is the son of Lord Deedes, who edited the same paper. Henry’s cousin, Sophia Money-Coutts, is Features Director of Tatler, while his brother George was also Sales Manager for the Mail. Azadeh Moshiri is just one more person who benefited from her family’s connections, cash and social capital. Even though she may have had to overcome other obstacles, she never had to smash through the strongest barrier of them all: the class ceiling.

Education statistics prove that focusing on race alone when considering social mobility can be incredibly misleading. For example, not all black children have the same chance of success: only 5.4% of black Caribbean pupils go to top universities, compared to 13.2% of black African pupils. Indian and Bangladeshi students, on average, currently have higher attainment at GCSE level than white British students, and black Caribbean girls do better than white British boys, who do better than black Caribbean boys. At Harvard, 71% of black and Hispanic students come from incomes above the national median.

Yet time and time again companies equate diversity with race rather than class. According to research by Harvard Business Review, not one of the companies on DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” mentioned social class in their diversity and inclusion programmes. 

In Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King writes that, “It is a simple matter of justice that America, in dealing creatively with the task of raising the Negro from backwardness, should also be rescuing a large stratum of the forgotten white poor.” King also argued that society should not give “special consideration to the Negro […]  and not take into sufficient account the plight of the white worker, whose economic condition is not far removed from his black brother.”

Moshiri’s ‘success story’ is a reminder that if we limit our conception of diversity, help does not always go where it is most needed. There are huge overlaps between race, class and income in the UK but, as King warns, we must not overlook the “economic conditions” that still hold back far too many people of all races.

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Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 month ago

Many thanks for this article. Ms Moshiri went to a fee-paying secondary school and a private university. But possibly even more significant were the numerous internships with prestigious media corporations. Only relatively wealthy parents can support their sprogs financially through that number of internships. So internships effectively counteract the smallish effect on equality that wider access to higher education achieved.
Her attribution of her success to the charity is such an obvious smokescreen that it calls into question her true abilities as a jounralist.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

“Her attribution of her success to the charity is such an obvious smokescreen that it calls into question her true abilities as a jounralist.”

It was perfectly disingenuous, highlighting her true credentials as a BBC journalist.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

A fair point.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Excellent point. The New York Times and Washington Post are filled with staffers who went to elite academic institutions – only children of the wealthy elite can afford to take the unpaid internships that groom young writers for those jobs, or afford the high housing costs in those markets while getting paid underwhelming salaries. Journalism used to speak truth to power when its practitioners actually came from the working class. Now the ruling elite and journalists are indistinguishable from one another. They come from the same upper class background and travel in the same social circles.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

No matter their ethnicity.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Excellent point. There used to be a time when journalism didn’t require a university degree. That’s when they spoke truth to power. Many of the journalists came from a working class background. Now the ruling elite and journalists are indistinguishable from each other – they come from the same privileged background and travel in the same social circles.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Grifting has become a growth industry in and of itself and includes “journalism”, NGO’s and foundations. Who wants to do real work anymore when you can sit at home, appear on a zoom call and attend lavish banquets and boondoggles around the world, while reaping a six figure paycheck.

Dave R
Dave R
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Bang on. Thanks for this, Peter.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

It’s a sleight of hand trick by the managerial class. We won’t shut up about racism to divert attention away from the fact that the working class is getting hammered by deindustrialization. Climate change alarmism is another example of this. Panic the populace so they don’t notice all the blue collar jobs that have been shipped overseas. Fear and division is a very effective political tool.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 month ago

Sophia Money-Coutts … if you were writing a novel with a posh character, you’d think that such a name was too obvious …

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Must admit, if i were born into that moniker, i’d be taking the earliest opportunity to have it changed by deed poll to erm… hide my Coutts roots.
Viscount Stansgate would’ve been able to advise her, had he still been alive.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Murray
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

The problem with all social engineering designed to boost the chances in life of those who are considered to be disadvantaged in some way, whether by race, class, sex or whatever, is the assumption that those that have succeeded have done so by some unfair advantage denied to others that could in fact be equally distributed in a fair society. Ms Moshiri will, of course, have benefited from her father’s wealth and the better education that afforded her together with the connections that both her mother and father provided, but in addition she is likely to have acquired social skills, habits of mind such as diligence and the ability to postpone gratification as well as inheriting some element of her parent’s intellectual capital. How can her upbringing by high achieving parent’s be equally distributed?

Of course, the basic character that leads to success and the right encouragement needs to be there. We all know of the sons and daughters that have achieved less than they might have because of excessive parental pressure or because the ease of prosperity has demotivated them from making their own achievements, but the fact remains that having the right parents can promote the chances of success by moulding the right character for success. Unfortunately, much well-intentioned social engineering actually facilitates the bad habits that children of the poor learn from their parents by supporting idleness and not correcting bad culturally inherited habits. Dr Thomas Sowell provides an excellent analysis of the reasons why too many US blacks are mired in poverty while blacks from outside the US are not held back by the supposed racism that allegedly holds back many of the US blacks.

A poor child from a culturally deprived background will have to be exceptional to overcome the disadvantages inherent in having the wrong parents compared to wealthier and more successful parents. Again those who succeed from poor backgrounds will in fact often have parents who while poor themselves have inculcated the right attitudes of mind to enable success. This is particularly noticeable among many immigrants who while lacking pale skins have the right attitude to education, diligence and social behaviour. This social and mental capital can not be so easily distributed by government fiat.

Terry M
Terry M
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The music world has instituted ‘blind auditions’ where the judges cannot see the candidates and must judge only on performance; this has led to many more women gaining positions in orchestras.
What could be the equivalent in journalism? …or science for that matter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Terry M
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

An excellent approach by the music world.

The equivalent by journalists would be to produce some sample work without the employer meeting the aspiring journalist. When I used to select a secretary in the past I would always have them type a piece of dictation and do a spelling test to eliminate candidates who didn’t measure up before actually meeting any candidate. Too often employees are selected on the basis of an interview instead of a rigorous test of their ability to do the job required.

Of course, some jobs do involved an assessment of how people come over to others and social biases inevitably creep in here.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

I’ve heard about this (radio program if I recall), I’ve also heard that it was further ‘modified’, or ended ( I don’t remember which) because it failed to produce the ‘correct’ outcome

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

It is, after all, rather embarrassing if you conduct ‘blind’ auditions, to increase diversity, only to find yourself hiring the same people as before. It seems a meritocracy is all well and good, but only if it results in a ‘diverse’ meritocracy.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

I don’t know if blind auditions have been abandoned but I note that the practice came under attack by an author writing in 2020 in the NYT (of course) on the basis that blind auditions while helping women have done nothing to increase the number of black musicians in top orchestras.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I’m waiting for blind auditions for professional sports. It is well known that short, fat white men are severely underrepresented in the American NFL and NBA.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

That concept will completely shatter the race-baiting industry.

joe hardy
joe hardy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Excellent post!

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

Thank you for that insight. I believe it is something that should get a wider airing.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago

I don’t want to say race, religion or culture doesn’t play a part, but frankly, if you’re born to parents who are married, love each other and neither you nor they suffer significantly from any health issues (physical and mental) or personality disorders and addictions while also being in a financially stable household, that’s 95% of the job done. Anything else such as faith and skin colour pales by comparison in terms of importance in my experience.

Peter D
Peter D
1 month ago

Diversity = white hatred
Pure and simple. The Queensland government tried blind sorting of résumés but abandoned it because they had a marked increase in white males turning up for interviews.
The Brisbane City Council (the largest local government in Australia) are purposely hiring non-white people to get their numbers up. I argued against it in the meetings and did not have my contract renewed.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter D

But don’t you see? At the very moment that there are equal numbers of minorities in control of all levers of power, they will immediately shut down these schemes in order to reduce the chance of exercising their power in a biased way. (You can start chortling now)

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 month ago

Hear hear. I’ve long thought this.
From a blog post I did on this very topic:
“… the only remaining bias of English law firms was class bias by English people against fellow English people – you’d have had a damned poor chance of being hired in any law firm in the Square Mile if you rocked up with, e.g., a strong Scouse, Geordie or Brummie accent; and I don’t imagine that’s changed much.

Social class, that old refugee from real politics, is the elephant in the hip atomised identity politics room. God forbid that, for instance, a poor bloke would ever have anything in common with a poor woman. Class discrimination is rampant; but, because its inclusive implications sit uneasily inside the “narcissism of small differences” that afflicts modish, priggish, identity politics, class politics nowadays never gets a mention.”
Blog-post here:
https://ayenaw.com/2021/12/03/class-bias/

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I dealt with a number of solicitors in law firms in or near Newcastle, the heart of Geordieland, and I can’t recall one that had a Georgie accent, so it’s not just the Square Mile.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeremy Bray
Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Clients want their lawyers to be connected. Connected people open doors and make things happen. Its not bias, its business.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

Yes, in a lot of professional jobs connectedness is a great advantage. Would I rather deal with the child of someone I have heard of and admire or the offspring of someone I have never heard of? Would I rather employ someone whose connections might open new avenues of business or someone without such connections? I remember reading the letter of a 19th century Vicar who was a relation to his son where he enumerated his family relations referring to them as “your connections”.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Fab, some proper Marxist influenced analysis makes it’s way onto UnHerd. And of course his diagnosis about the primacy of class wasn’t all wrong.
Of course all the BS about ‘woke’ falls under much the same distraction strategy. Get one side talking about race/identity and the other in response banging on about ‘wokeism’ while we slip away in the middle with the cash and the advantage – you can hear them saying it.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Agreed. The problem is not the wrong hiring quotas – its the concept of quotas period. Once we abandon the singular focus on competence in hiring and promotion, we are have compromised the very things that made liberalism and capitalism the pillars of our prosperity and security.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

I agree. Although the question is – are we actually good at hiring based on competence/potential etc? Alot of evidence that whilst we all think we are good judges evidence suggest we are rarely as good as we think and apt to allow alot of own bias to interfere. So I’m mindful of that too and one has to be aware of the danger of recruiting in one’s own image.
As an aside I saw some fascinating evidence that the time of an interview seemed to correlate as much as other factors – pre lunch break interview slot not being good for a candidate’s chances, nor last at the end of the day. I think we’d recognise that instinctively. Analysis of decision making does throw up some v interesting correlations not all associated with the candidates characteristics but not all demonstrating we make fantastic choices either.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

It’s a sleight of hand trick by the managerial class. We won’t shut up about racism to divert attention away from the fact the working class is getting hammered by deindustrialization. Climate change alarmism is another example of this. Create panic about the environment so people don’t notice all the blue collar jobs that have been shipped overseas. Fear and division are very effective political tools.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes, but it will happen to white-collar jobs very soon too, if it’s not already happening.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 month ago

The writer is using a concept of class structure which is fast being replaced by one which places at its head the new ruling class – the Woke. They encompass the very demographic cited by the writer as the dominant one in journalism, allied with those whom they designate as the oppressed, and for whom they are the self-appointed protectors from British “racism.” Economics and education, in their view, take a back seat to race and gender in determining who deserves the privilege they dispense. And so Moshiri’s selection does not expose irony, but rather consistency.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

I was about to post this myself and then I came across your post. From what I can tell, it doesn’t matter what you believe in personally, but what political face you wear. No-one with a working brain believes in Woke theology, but those profiting from it are unable to fight against it for fear of losing their livelihood. Anti-woke celebrities that have gone public with their sentiments have been cancelled or fired as a warning to others who might speak out. Like all corrupt systems, it’s sheer cowardice that is keeping it afloat.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

Why would these people talk about class and economics when they can distract you with diversionary wastes of time? God forbid people might ask for pay raises.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 month ago

Excellent.