Jobs at top firms are being denied to thousands of working-class people as they are effectively required to pass a “poshness test” to join elite employers, according to an official body set up to promote social mobility.
The research by Alan Milburn’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found that rather than how well a potential recruit might do the job, executives are more likely to judge them by how well they speak.
As part of the study, the research found that more than two-thirds of job vacancies in elite legal and City firms are filled by those who have been through private of grammar schools – with only 11 per cent of school children either attending selective grammar schools or attending fee-paying schools.
The commission reported that managers who conduct job interviews dislike working-class accents, and are instead impressed by young people who have travelled widely, which favours those from well-off families.
An employer frankly admitted that the recruitment practices at his company were not in favour of young working class candidates. The Guardian quotes him asking:”How much mud do I have to sift through in that population to find that diamond?”
The commission also reported that even after getting on the first rung of the ladder a working class youth is likely to be passed over for promotion due to the “tendency of more senior professionals to promote in their own image and thus ‘misrecognise’ merit.”
Mr Milburn, who chairs the commission said:” “This research shows that young 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. 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.”
“Thankfully, some of our country’s leading firms are making a big commitment to recruit the brightest and best, regardless of background. They should be applauded. But for the rest this is a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment.”
Dr Louise Ashley, of University of London, who led the research, urged firms to recruit from a wider range of applicants, and make sure that those from “diverse” backgrounds were not at a disadvantage. “Selection processes which advantage students from more privileged backgrounds remain firmly in place,” she said.