BBC/Diversity: Working class heroes are in the eye of the beholder

The UK public broadcaster wants its workforce to reflect the population it serves. By 2028 at the latest, the BBC hopes A quarter of the workforce – currently 20,300 – will come from “a lower socio-economic background”.

What does that mean? British Job Class marks as sharp as police sniffer dogs to locate loosely packaged marijuana. Accents, drinking habits and clothing are among the giveaways. Part of British TV programming shows low-income Britons as teenage mothers, helpless fathers and grandmothers in their thirties.

The BBC’s approach is more systematic. It focuses on education – state or fee-paying school – entitlement to free school meals and parental employment. the latter Benchmarkused by the Social Mobility Commission will be the main metric for the new quota.

Social Immobility in the UK; Probability of having a blue-collar occupation based on background (%) Oxbridge participants dominate some occupations...The 10 occupations with the highest Oxbridge participation (%)...but not all The 10 occupations with the lowest Oxbridge participation (%)

All are imperfect measurements. Middle-class Britons pay a steep price for housing in the catchment area of ​​good public schools. A current survey, of the law firm Simpson Millar, put this premium at 50 percent above the national average. Additional costs may include exam teachers, extracurricular Mandarin classes and vacations spent searching Florentine galleries.

Occupation can also be a slippery term. Butchers, bakers and chandelier makers appear to be working class. But these days, among the exponents are hip artisans with art degrees and posh accents. Builders who left school at 16 can earn more than postdoctoral lecturers.

Data from the BBC itself illustrates the imponderables of such measures. Just 7.6 per cent of staff said they had received free school meals, while 11.5 per cent were privately tutored, according to the BBC’s latest annual report. One-fifth came from a household with a “working-class” breadwinner. Not surprisingly, the BBC isn’t a microcosm of Britain, with comparable figures on either side 20.8 percent7 percent and 39 percent.

The BBC’s working-class cohort shrinks rapidly when filtered for leadership roles, where 17.5 per cent claim paid education.

The broadcaster is not alone in its pursuit of class diversity. KPMG want Twenty-nine percent of partners and directors are to be from the working class by 2030, up from 23 percent and 20 percent now.

Politicians like to boast of diversity. But almost a third of MPs were privately educated at the time 2019 elitism in Britain Report. The same applies to more than half of senior judges, state secretaries and diplomats. Social mobility has been at a similar level since the Second World War. Changing that should start from the top.

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Adam Bradshaw

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