My previous blogs have looked at the issue of class discrimination, why it matters and what employers and employees can do to begin to tackle the issue by creating a strategy. This blog explores the first element of this strategy – Data.
Anyone active within Diversity and Inclusion knows how important the collection of data is. This information enables us and our organisations to (a) establish a baseline (b) implement targets & (c) measure progress. However, measuring and tracking socio-economic (SEB) diversity is often one of the biggest challenges any employers face. Class is not one of the personal characteristics protected by the Equalities Act 2010 and guidance from central government has not been consistent.
It is important that we establish and socialise throughout the organisation the reasons why the collection of data is important as a first step. This should include the following –
- The profile of your workforce by SEB
- Relative success rates at recruitment and promotion, by SEB.
- How SEB relates to other forms of diversity
- Links between performance in any selection process and job performance.
- Assist in establishing stretching measures and targets.
Unlike other diversity and inclusion questions relating to Race, Gender and Sexuality many staff surveys, questions around social economic background (SEB) aren’t a simple binary “yes/no” question. Respected organisations active within the SEB agenda (including the Social Mobility Commission have, however, agreed and advise that the following three questions will provide an accurate picture for employers and employees. Added to these are national benchmarking targets , expressed in brackets. These are –
- Parental occupation at age of 14 (Working Class 29%)
- Type of school (comprehensive, independent etc) attended at the age of 11-16 (independent 7.5%)
- Free school meal eligibility (15%)
The Social Mobility Index promotes these as the gold standard approach for organisations to take, but for some asking this many may put some off. In response to this there is a consensus that if you were to ask one question then the first, relating to parental occupation would be the priority. Traditionally it elicits high response rates, is accessible to all nationalities and is a very strong predictor of outcomes.
Having established the questions that you are going to ask, the organisation needs to turn its energy to driving up response rates. Some within the organisation may worry about providing personal information or need to understand the context they are being asked before they commit the information. Some may genuinely believe that the data collected could be used to disadvantage individuals or encourage discrimination or harassment. Organisations need to be alive to these and build a leadership style & culture which encourages participation in collecting SEB data. I will be turning my attention to this aspect of the strategy in my next blog.