A damning report in the UK has found that major British companies often hire ‘posh’ people over their working-class equivalents. The government commissioned research indicates that things such as accents and manners affected the likelihood of employment.

The fascinating research, conducted as part of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, used core sample from thirteen elite legal, accountancy and financial companies that account for more than 45,000 of the nation’s highest paid jobs. Shockingly, the report found that around 70 per cent of those high-paying jobs went to applicants whose backgrounds included private schooling, even though they account for less than 11 per cent of the working population.

That glaring inconsistency has set tongues wagging within the government and society at large. Alan Milburn, a former Labour minister and chair of the aforementioned commission, told the Guardian that the situation entrenched social disharmony.

“This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs. Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry,” he exclaimed. “Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances.”

Addressing these issues, the report points to a systemic lack of willingness to admit that such prejudicial hiring practices do exist. The author’s wrote that the UK’s top firms were “…denying themselves talent, stymieing young people’s social mobility and fueling the social divide that bedevils Britain.”

Later, the paper tackled the problem head-on: “Social class, however defined, apparently remains a strong determinant of one’s ability to access the elite professions and, once there, to thrive. Yet still, this study would suggest that within elite firms, awareness of the role played by social background in relation to career progression is quite low, especially compared to other diversity axes such as gender. Further, participants spoke of their reluctance to discuss social class with their colleagues, on the basis that this is potentially intrusive.”

It’s a sad ‘fact-of-life’ and one that is perhaps less frequent in the Australian context. But still, there are some who might believe that these kinds of practices are also common within our own historically Anglo-centric culture.


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