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It's good for business when socio-economically disadvantaged workers are treated fairly

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It’s hard to think of anything that symbolizes America more than the American Dream. But that’s really no longer the case, according to a Dartmouth College study.

The survey highlights that many Americans struggle to pay their bills. These challenges are often stratified by race, with black homeowners twice as likely to lose their homes as white homeowners. The authors argue that this is often due to lack of financial support from extended families and high poverty rates across family networks.

Leveling the playing field

It may be tempting to say that business does nothing to try to provide a level playing field for socio-economically disadvantaged workers, but it does. It’s actually good business sense.

For example, a recent survey found that 80% of all tenure-track faculty in the United States came from just 20% of the institutions that award doctoral degrees. Moreover, historically black colleges and universities were not included in that 20%. In fact, one of her eight tenure-track faculty members has a PhD from either Harvard, Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the University of Michigan.

The situation is not good in other areas. Only 6% of doctors, 12% of journalists and 12% of CEOs are from working-class backgrounds. People from poor backgrounds face many disadvantages not only during the recruitment process, but also at work.

For example, research shows that salespeople tend to score poorly when they speak with an accent. In fact, you might not be willing to recommend someone with a weird accent for a promotion.

class ceiling

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that people of lower social class were 32% less likely to hold managerial positions. This makes working class individuals even less likely than women and African Americans to become managers.

But while other minority groups tend to have policies designed to equalize access, few are valuable in promoting class diversity in our organization. is. Research shows that people who grew up in poorer circumstances actually make better leaders than their wealthier peers. This is because they tend to value things like community and interdependence over self-sufficiency and independence.

Researchers have found that these individuals are likely to be people-oriented servant leaders, eager to empower their teams. Unfortunately, due to their poor backgrounds, many were not given the opportunity to practice such leadership.


Self-doubt can also plague the prospects of people from poorer backgrounds. In addition, this overconfidence often leads them to bluff in order to come to power.

“Advantages beget advantages. People born in the upper class are more likely to stay in the upper class, and high-income entrepreneurs are disproportionately highly educated and from wealthy families,” the researchers said. Explaining. “Our research suggests that social class shapes the attitudes people hold about their abilities, which have important implications for how class hierarchies persist from generation to generation. I have.”

The opposite is often the case for people from poorer backgrounds, where insecurity and self-doubt undermine their prospects. If organizations can work with people to overcome these fears, they can develop great leaders, but it takes effort and support.

Addressing weaknesses

A study from the University of Basel highlights the important role self-belief plays in life success. When we believe something is possible, it becomes a form of the Pygmalion Effect, which makes our beliefs a reality.

Researchers show that while cognitive skills are important, the most important factor in determining both educational and career success was the aspirations we held as young people. , believes that a lack of ambition at a young age is a major factor in the lack of social mobility we see today.

The first step for people from poor backgrounds to succeed in their careers is to build their confidence early on, to believe they can succeed and to be given the opportunity to do so.

Our research found that housing associations also play a key role in fostering soft skills development, building people’s trust, and building the networks and connections that are essential for career advancement.

For businesses, however, consider mentoring disadvantaged groups through local communities, while at the same time significantly expanding the usual avenues of recruitment to include “invisible workers”. You can also consider doing so. A formal DEI-focused initiative could be considered to ensure that people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are not frozen.

We are in the midst of a talent shortage, so it makes good business sense to keep marginalized people out of your talent management efforts. It also helps ensure that the American Dream is truly on track and viable again for the next generation.