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Social mobility in the profession

Do you think class still plays a role in the profession?

A new report conducted by Debut has found a third of young people surveyed put off from joining a business if they feel the workforce is made up predominantly of middle and upper-class employees. 

Do you think the accountancy profession is guilty of professional exclusion of young working class people? Is accountancy a class-based profession? Is the profession doing enough to hire people from diverse backgrounds? 

 

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16th May 2019 12:45

Eh? Who on earth with any class would want to be an accountant? I saw another report recently saying most young people thought (unsurprisingly) it was a pretty boring and therefore unattractive profession.

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16th May 2019 12:54

If Class = Money, then only at top levels when buying into a practice might be less of a risk for those with money, than those who have to borrow to take that step.

Smaller firms / modern apprenticeships I don't think there is exclusion at starting level at all.

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16th May 2019 12:58

Not round here, there isn't.

I work. So I'm working class.

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16th May 2019 13:02

People who turn their noses up at working or socialising with 'middle-class' people are invariably 'middle-class' people in denial, rather than 'working class'.

I think the most helpful thing we can do to stop being so class oriented as a society is to stop giving such credence to meaningless 'research' on class and social mobility.

There is no useful definition of what constitutes a 'class' of people and pigeonholing people so as to represent complex issue with simple mathematical statistics is counterproductive and a waste of everyone's time.

- just my opinion as a simple lower middle upper working semi rural class boy done good.

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16th May 2019 13:07

Sorry, I’m just a bit tired of this kind of research designed to make us think we are awful and that we must change.

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16th May 2019 13:48

I agree with Justin. I went to a careers event at a school recently for 14-16 year old students. Most of them just wanted careers in drama or sports - lots of glazed over eyes when accountancy came up - nothing at all to do with class.

The profession generally is pretty open if you have the experience and/or qualifications.

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16th May 2019 18:14

Done all right for an essex boy who attended a 'failing school' (now demolished) who cant spell too well.

No idea what class i am. "All over the place" would probably best describe it, but I am definitely the "posh one" in the family. But that's very relative, most of them consider centre parks highly upmarket. I imagine I am a horrible oik to many of my more well to do neighbours who seem to consider our sending the kids go to a state school as some sort of intriguing experiment.

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By Matrix
16th May 2019 19:47

I would like to think we live in a meritocracy. Are you suggesting that accountants should diversify to recruit non skilled employees to meet diversity targets?

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17th May 2019 08:47

35 years ago, a job application at a local firm asked for "fathers profession and mothers profession"...(postman and cleaner) . First and only time...it was more about how many potential clients I could introduce I think.

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17th May 2019 10:58

The medium-sized City firm I joined 50 years ago employed people from all backgrounds, so I think it unlikely that there is any class bias now. Although they did have one woman partner, they were still a bit doubtful about employing women though, and never allowed me to go off on an away audit in case I had too much fun with my fellow male articled clerks out of hours!

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to susanna russell-smith
17th May 2019 11:58

Auditors are renowned sex maniacs, it's only sensible.

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By Maslins
17th May 2019 11:54

There'll be bias of every interviewer, whether consciously or not. However, I'd imagine (at least with smaller firms) it's just as likely to be away from seemingly posh/upper class folk as towards them.

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By Mr_awol
17th May 2019 12:16

This reminds me of the ridiculous Hays survey sent out last week on diversity.

I started filling it out I a frank and honest manner - mainly in order to protest at the tedious irrelevance of the subject matter. Unfortunately I had to stop as the questions appeared to be more than leading, to create the result they want to report.

Am I the only one left who couldn't care less how 'diverse' their (or anyone else's) firms are? All I care about is how good the candidate is going to be at their job, how much money they want, and whether they are likely to hang around or not. gender/race/religion/class/sexuality/nationality/etc is largely irrelevant and any attempts to promote selection of staff based upon such factors should be treated with the utmost contempt.

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to Mr_awol
17th May 2019 12:34

Mr_awol wrote:
... All I care about is how good the candidate is going to be at their job, how much money they want, and whether they are likely to hang around or not.

You're right.

But

Years ago, when I was applying for university, I ruled our Oxbridge because I thought they would be full of posh oiks and I wouldn’t fit in - even though I expected to get the grades.

If ‘minorities’ consider the profession and see that it is populated by people who are not like them, most will look elsewhere. We lose out on talent, and society remains or becomes more segregated.

I agree too that we shouldn’t lower standards to be able to hire more minorities. As long as those entrance criteria are truly necessary.

Try going to a black church. Or walking down the street in the majority Muslim part of your town. Or visiting a gay bar as a straight man. Then you’ll start to experience the displacement from being the odd one out. That’s why we have to work harder to attract and retain talent from minorities.

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By DJKL
to paul.benny
17th May 2019 16:18

Re Oxford you possibly misjudged, my father went to Queens (the northern college) in 1944 from a working class background on a bursary(although by then my grandfather was an officer rather than an NCO/Warrant Officer, having worked up through the army ranks from a private from 1910 onwards), a fair few of his Oxford friends from that period, who I met later in life, including my godfather, came from similar background.

Whilst Waugh's depiction in Decline and Fall no doubt still prospered there were plenty of grammar school / bursary boys (and some girls) who had made good, in fact if you look at the benches of the H of C in the 1970s onward there was plenty of evidence of those from humbler backgrounds attending Oxford and Cambridge.

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By Mr_awol
to paul.benny
21st May 2019 10:43

paul.benny wrote:

You're right.

But

Years ago, when I was applying for university, I ruled our Oxbridge because I thought they would be full of posh oiks and I wouldn’t fit in - even though I expected to get the grades.

If ‘minorities’ consider the profession and see that it is populated by people who are not like them, most will look elsewhere. We lose out on talent, and society remains or becomes more segregated.

I agree too that we shouldn’t lower standards to be able to hire more minorities. As long as those entrance criteria are truly necessary.

Try going to a black church. Or walking down the street in the majority Muslim part of your town. Or visiting a gay bar as a straight man. Then you’ll start to experience the displacement from being the odd one out. That’s why we have to work harder to attract and retain talent from minorities.

I'd like to respectfully suggest YOU go to a black church, muslim area, or gay bar, to iron our your own stereotypes and prejudices.

I've never been to a black church but imagine it would be a welcoming experience. I have walked the streets of parts of the UK which you might call 'muslim' (and other parts which might be labelled 'eastern european') and had no issues.

Most of all, though, I'm a straight man and happen to have several close friends who are gay so spend a fair bit of time in 'gay bars'. I even (shock horror) regularly go to Brighton. Ive never felt uncomfortable or out of place.

In short, your suggestion that I go and experience life as a minority is daft, but that's not really what I want to talk about. It's this assumption that imbalance 'needs to be addressed' that worries me.

I disagree that we should "work harder to attract and retain talent from minorities". I am all for equal opportunities, and if any area of the population is under-represented in a certain occupation or opportunity then I do not in any way object to any attempts to encourage people in the relevant 'minority' to apply, or to reassure them that they CAN enter that field - if they WANT to AND they EARN it.

What I don't agree with is tokenism or (and I'm not sure which is actually worse) discrimination. There is no such thing as 'positive' discrimination - that is a phrase used by self interest groups to attempt to justify their position under the pretence that they desire equality. By implementing targets for, or shifting people's focus onto, diversity, or by forcing employers to report meaningless statistics such as the 'gender pay gap' we are effectively putting pressure on employers to consider non-relevant issues as part of their HR/recruitment process. Why? Why should it matter if someone is male/female/black/white/straight/gay/posh/common/etc?

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17th May 2019 15:12

Class and...any profession.

I am reminded of a tale back in the 70s, an interviewer in the City is trying to ascertain people's attitude to headgear which was then falling out of regular usage. They (singular, gender unknown, this was fifty years ago) enquired of an immaculately attired gentleman as to whether he would consider wearing a bowler hat.

Obviously not just taken aback but filled with consternation the gentleman replied slowly and with great consideration "A bowler?....in the City?.....Good God, might be mistaken for a banker!"

Class, ain't wot it used to be.

Thanks (1)
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17th May 2019 15:12

Class and...any profession.

I am reminded of a tale back in the 70s, an interviewer in the City is trying to ascertain people's attitude to headgear which was then falling out of regular usage. They (singular, gender unknown, this was fifty years ago) enquired of an immaculately attired gentleman as to whether he would consider wearing a bowler hat.

Obviously not just taken aback but filled with consternation the gentleman replied slowly and with great consideration "A bowler?....in the City?.....Good God, might be mistaken for a banker!"

Class, ain't wot it used to be.

Thanks (0)
avatar
17th May 2019 15:12

Class and...any profession.

I am reminded of a tale back in the 70s, an interviewer in the City is trying to ascertain people's attitude to headgear which was then falling out of regular usage. They (singular, gender unknown, this was fifty years ago) enquired of an immaculately attired gentleman as to whether he would consider wearing a bowler hat.

Obviously not just taken aback but filled with consternation the gentleman replied slowly and with great consideration "A bowler?....in the City?.....Good God, might be mistaken for a banker!"

Class, ain't wot it used to be.

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By DJKL
to moneymanager
17th May 2019 16:28

Or a solicitor. My father had a bowler that hung in the hallway of the house, it was his headgear for client funerals.

Whilst my father did no attire himself so (more three piece pinstripe and brimmed grey hat or more country style for landed clients, brown tweed with brown hat,one of his partners (in the 1970s and even into the early 1980s) used to turn up for work in the black jacket, black waistcoat, striped trousers and bowler every day.

Even as a temporary summer mailroom clerk aged 16 in summer 1976 I was expected to wear a jacket and tie in case I needed to answer the doorbell (The uniformed commissionaire having only been removed in the early 1970s)

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