IDENTITY AT WORK
accents – effects of identity in the workplace
August 2019 | Report
Within the UK, social mobility has been virtually stagnant since 2014 with entry into professional occupations remaining largely dependent on parent’s careers, professional networks and access to educational opportunities. Nationally representative research by Equality Group highlights the truth about social mobility in the UK. The data finds that 76% of Brits believe that those with higher class-status have increased access to ‘better’ careers/job opportunities regardless of experience or qualifications. This is not aided by the fact that the Equalities Act of 2010 – an act introduced to make discrimination illegal within the workplace when recruiting new staff – does not include class and/or socio-economic status in its measure of diversity.
This means that as professional guidelines stipulate, businesses aren’t legally required to hire across the breadth of British society. This is despite 60% of the UK workforce identifying as coming from a working class background. The workplace consequences of this are vast, with professionals purposefully hiding their regional accents and hometowns in order to avoid any impediment to their professional development.
The prevalence of class-based discrimination within the UK and its tangible impact on recruitment, professional development and inequality is therefore something that requires immediate attention from business leaders, hiring managers and the policy decision makers who are central to Boris’ new Government.
Contextualising Equality Group’s research and the sense of injustice felt by millions of working Brits, the Social Mobility Commission has confirmed that those from better-off backgrounds are 80% more likely to end up in professional jobs than their working-class counterparts. Given this, it is time businesses look beyond the surface and acknowledge that diversity isn’t simply hinged on ethnicity and gender but also includes socio-economic status.
Class, hometowns, accents – effects of identity in the workplace
An academic journal on ‘The Class Pay Gap in Higher Professional and Managerial Occupations’ found that professionals from lower socio-economic classes were less likely to ask for pay rises and promotions due to a fear about ‘not fitting in’. This is an understandable concern given that is 36% of Brits have declared that there are no lower socio-economic people on their management board within the business they work for. This double edge sword means that it is not only how our social-economic status is perceived that could inhibit our career progression, but moreover, our own self-perception of class that can influence our employment status.