Two-thirds of Brits believe class is an issue when it comes to securing a new job,

Business Insights

with one in three saying they've been discriminated against because of it

According to a new study from CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job board, two-thirds (67%) of Brits think social class can be an issue for people when it comes to securing a job, with one in three (29.3%) admitting that they’ve felt discriminated against because of their class during their job search.

The study of 2,000 working professionals and 300 UK employers, asked workers about the areas they felt discriminated against the most during their job search, with respondents citing where they’re from (48.3%), their class (46.2%), the way they speak (43.2%), the school or university they attended (33.1%) and where they currently live (18.6%) as the main factors. Alongside this:

  • Respondents in the North East were most likely to feel discriminated against for their class (60%), followed by those in the North West (58.3%) and those in Wales (54.5%)

  • Professionals in Scotland were most likely to feel discriminated against for how they speak (61.1%), followed by those in the West Midlands (53.3%) and the North East (48%)

  • Workers in the South West were most likely to feel discriminated against for where they’re from (61.9%), followed by those in the West Midlands (60%) and East Anglia (57.1%)

Despite this, over half (54.1%) of employers don’t think discrimination around class is an issue when hiring, though the majority admit that they can be biased when assessing job applications (85.3%) and during interviews (86.3%). Over three-quarters (79.2%) of workers also think employers are biased during job applications and interviews.

When asked about the areas they make pre-judgements on during the hiring process, employers admit that they do consider the way they speak (77.3%), where they’re from (44.6%) and their class (31.8%).

Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library, comments:

“Tackling discrimination around age, race, disability and gender have long been key focal points for companies, but little is talked about it in relation to social class. Our study highlights the disconnect between how workers and businesses feel about the issue and it’s clear that more needs to be done to raise awareness of its impact on both organisations and job hunters.

“The TUC has already called for stronger workplace rights to counter the class privilege that remains in Britain today, but businesses hold responsibility too. Ensuring that your recruitment process is fair for all applicants is crucial; especially if you’re already struggling to find the talent you need to fill your vacancies.”

Alongside this, three-quarters (70.4%) of professionals think legal measures should be taken to tackle discrimination based on class at work, with a smaller 62.1% of employers agreeing. The study also asked employers whether they think companies should be forced to report any gaps in pay between workers from different social backgrounds, with 54.2% believing they should.

Indeed, just over half (50.5%) of Brits think their social class impacts how much they get paid, with this figure rising to 57.4% amongst people who identified as lower middle class. However, only 39.5% of employers felt this was true.

Biggins continues:

“Pushing more responsibility on businesses to stamp out class prejudice is certainly something the Government should be considering right now; particularly as the country is at risk of wasting the skills and resource of some of our most talented workers.”