“Who you know” still impacting success at work
“Who you know” still impacting success at work
- A third of young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds believe a lack of network or connections in their chosen field could have a negative impact on their career prospects
- Almost a third (31%) believe that you may be less successful in a job application or interview if the employer has a different background to you
- The findings also revealed that 29% of young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds aspire to start their own business compared, with less than a quarter of those from other backgrounds
Many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds still believe that a culture of ‘not what you know, but who you know’ is a barrier to progression and social mobility, according to new research published today.
Accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO carried out a survey of over 1000 young people aged between 18-24 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds (SEB) across England.
The research reveals that a third of young people from a lower SEB* say a lack of connections or ‘professional network’ could have a negative impact when applying for jobs.
Almost a third (31%) also believe that you may be less successful in a job application or interview if the employer or hiring manager has a different background to you.
Differences between the employer and employee’s background are also considered to be a barrier when it comes to career progression and reaching more senior positions.
Almost a third (30%) of those from a lower SEB believe job progression and promotions could be negatively impacted if the person you work for has a different background to you, for example went to a different type of school or were raised in a different area. This compares with less than a quarter (23%) of those from other backgrounds who believe the same.
When asked about plans for the future, those from a lower SEB are more likely to aspire to start their own business, with almost a third (29%) saying this is their long-term career ambition, compared with a fifth (21%) of those from other backgrounds.
The research also investigated which factors are considered most important to young people when applying for a job. Salary is considered one of the most important factors for just over half (53%) of young people from a lower SEB compared to 47% from other backgrounds.
Salary was followed by flexible working hours as a top priority for over a third (34%) of young people from a lower SEB vs. just over a quarter (27%) from other backgrounds. Cost and distance of the work commute is a priority for a almost a quarter of overall respondents (23%).
Sarah Hillary, partner at BDO commented on the findings:
“These findings reveal a stark reality that many young people still feel that factors linking to their upbringing and socio-economic background are having an impact on their long-term career prospects.
“Many businesses have made a conscious effort to ensure their recruitment strategies and processes encourage diversity and do not allow for nepotism, however, it is worrying that so many young people still have concerns that having a different background to their potential employer or not knowing ‘the right people’ could put them at disadvantage. Clearly, there is still work to be done in this area and the importance of role models across all levels of a business should not be underestimated.
“Our research does reveal that a third of young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds aspire to run their own business. This entrepreneurial spirit from our next generation of business leaders will be crucial as we rebuild the UK economy. Policymakers should not overlook the potential of these young people, ensuring they have access to the right education, skills and funding that will support them with these ambitions.”
Lee Elliot Major OBE, Professor of Social Mobility at Exeter University, added:
“Tragically in modern Britain those from disadvantaged backgrounds stand less of a chance of getting a job or earning as much as their more privileged counterparts even if they have the same educational qualifications.
“This survey reveals that today’s younger generations are all too aware of the inequalities in workplace opportunities that define Britain’s low social mobility: where you come from, rather than your talent or hard work, still matters far more than it should do in the workplace and employers and policymakers must make steps to try and address this.”
Note to editors
This survey was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of BDO in July 2022.
1000 people aged 18-24 across England were surveyed. 50% of respondents were from a lower socio-economic background.
Socio-economic background is defined by the occupation of a person’s highest earning parent at the age of 14 and if the person attended a state school.
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