16 June 2015
I read one of the most disappointing articles I have ever come across yesterday, after a colleague flagged it up to me. Based on interviews with thirteen elite firms, spanning accountancy, law and financial services, The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found that young people are missing out on top jobs simply because they come from a less privileged background.
Whilst I understand that personal appearance plays a part in the interview process, as you wouldn’t expect someone to turn up in jeans and a t-shirt, I disagree with the notion that if you’ve been to a prestigious university and speak without an accent, you’re somehow better for the job than someone who had a paper round at thirteen and grew up in a less privileged area. I can vouch for this, as I grew up on a council estate in Denbigh and never went to university. In many ways, this kind of background drives people harder.
As an organisation, if you immediately cut off a whole section of society then you’re missing out, in my opinion. It’s not about having great exam results or being “polished” – when you see that raw potential in someone, all it takes is the right kind of motivation or the right kind of challenge to bring that out. You can develop people’s skills, but you cannot teach a great attitude. I hope more firms take on this approach in the coming years because, until then, they’re missing out in a big way.