Are you posh enough?

Thursday February 2, 2017

In the past, wherever you were from seemed to dictate where you would end up. Before the days of employment legislation, the privileged were favoured for many of the top jobs simply because of their background and mannerisms. The HR Dept would love to reminisce the passing of this barrier to social mobility. But based on current evidence – articulated in a report published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission – we cannot!

The report found that unofficial ‘poshness tests’ were being used to filter out candidates from non-Russell group universities and non-private or selective schools. It turns out that the recruitment processes of thirteen key law, accountancy and financial companies filled 70% of offered roles to those from private or selective schools, even though such establishments educate just 11% of the population.

Why would top firms place such a glass ceiling above the heads of the majority of the job market? The notion of supply and demand may be the cause. Let’s take university graduates as an example. More graduates than ever before in the United Kingdom are donning the chalkboard hat in the hope of a brighter future. But only to be faced with a saturated job market where soft skills are being assessed to judge a candidates worth. As a result, “personal style, accent and mannerisms” are taken into account, placing the privileged at an advantage.

Politics in the past was very much an upper-class pastime. Some argue it still is a closed shop. Political talent set aside, a key question put to politicians in recent elections has sought an answer for the simple fact that the majority of our representatives and prime ministers have come from the same section of society.

America’s recent presidential candidacy announcements are proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree too. Jeb Bush, putting himself forward to be the Republican candidate, seeks the reins of government previously held by his brother and father; if successful he may face Democrat Hilary Clinton, wife of ex-President Bill Clinton.

In today’s employment law landscape, discriminating against job candidates in the recruitment process for any of the nine protected characteristics can land the employer in a tribunal. So give The HR Dept a call to make sure you get the process right first time!

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