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  • Writer's picturePreeti Bonthron

Is Socioeconomic Status the forgotten marker of diversity?

Socioeconomic status or social class has sometimes been referred to as the forgotten dimension of diversity.

According to The Forgotten Dimension of Diversity, in the US, workers from lower social-class origins are 32% less likely to become managers than are people from higher origins. Women experience a greater disadvantage (27%) to men and black people when compared to white (25%) .

Such disparity is seen in several other countries.

In 2022, income inequality in the UK increased by 1.3% to 35.7 in comparison to the previous year. This was driven primarily by a decrease in the disposable income of the in the fifth poorest households.

In contrast, there was a 3.3% increase in the disposable income of the fifth richest households.

In the US on the other hand, in 2021, income inequality increased for the first time since 2011.

According to The Guardian, in the US, three multibillionaires possess more wealth than the bottom half of American society – 160 million Americans. Also, 45% of all new income goes to the top 1% of the population.

Socioeconomic status/class is often ignored by organisation because it is a difficult area to measure, and particularly because it is intertwined closely with another: race.

Parliamentary research on poverty shows that in 2019-20, poverty rates were highest in households where the head of the house belonged to Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnicity and lowest from White ethnicities.

In the US, race matters when it comes to socioeconomic status. Black people from lower-class origins are far less likely than white people with similar backgrounds to become managers. (Harvard Business Review, 2021)

While there are several key initiatives that organisations can implement to understand the impact of socioeconomic status on them, it is important to first recognise that socioeconomic status is a very measurable marker, and to move forward, the root cause must be addressed, particularly the close ties between socioeconomic status and race.

One of the ways that organisations can set a benchmark is through our Diversity Review.

It is the only annual report in the UK and US to track corporate practices against the ten facets of visible and invisible diversity and there is no cost to participate.

All data is aggregated and all participants will receive a personalised diagnostic scorecard.

Please get in touch if you would like more information on how to participate.

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