The argument against social mobility
We all want more social mobility, don't we? Dr Lisa McKenzieargues no. She’s a social researcher with an opposing view on unsophisticated efforts to diversify the workforce. “Social mobility means that a select few of working-class people are able to transcend their class position if they can conform to a middle-class life and middle-class values,” she says.
Lisa isa lecturer in sociological practice working as part of the Great British Class Survey Team. She is author of the bestselling “Getting by: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain” and, “Building Better society; Society Better: Thinking the pro-social.”
Equality in the workplace
We should be rallying against class inequality, she explains. “The system works on an imbalance of power basis and in order to maintain power the class system has to remain intact, I study the work of Pierre Bourdieu who talks about social capital (networks, friends), cultural capital (education and elite cultural resources) economic capital wealth (wealth) and symbolic capital (amalgamation of having everything),” she adds.
“Middle class people have lots of all of these, and have easier access to them, economic capital means you can pay for a private school, you can network into other powerful groups, if you are working class you have littleaccess to any of this. It’s time we recognised the easy routes that middle class people get into and through their education and careers in relating to working class people,” she says.
Creating an inclusive working culture
This requires a rethinking of the way we consider people and opportunities. She tells us, “Culture is as important as wealth, working class people are judged on accent, manners, ways of dressing, ways of talking, while middle class 'culture' is dominant and seen as 'right' while working class 'culture' is 'wrong' meaning simply to be working class is wrong, seemingly the only way to gain social mobility is to become middle class, thus cementing the idea that working class people are 'less than'.”
One approach to stripping away class privilege in your hiring processes is to consider blind recruitment. This is removing all identification details from your candidates’ resumes. This means people are considered on their skills and experience instead of factors that can lead to biased decisions. This could include names of schools, gender of ethnic background. Some companies have also levelled the playing field by banning personal recommendations during a hiring process.
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