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Sunday, 3rd December 2023


What future lies for this young boy? Will he have fair access to the professions? Does he have to come from a particular schooling and cultural background to succeed in professional life?

The UK government has done a major study of social mobility in this country, and think there is a huge new wave of progress around the corner as British professions, which are reputed as world class, become more open and accessible. It is a highly commendable initiative and the research is very good, and shows that there is still a huge amount of exclusivity, especially with people from particular social classes. One statistic which shocked me was that despite only 7% of the population being educated in private independent schools, over half of the members of professional bodies come from this background, with 70% of judges having such an upbringing. This is not fair, nor does it show equal access and progression.

The report looks at underlying factors for the barriers to social mobility and also ways in which these barriers could be removed through mechanisms like internships, mentoring, part-time education, vouchers for life-long training, and so on. Unfortunately, the huge success story of ethnic professionals in Britain is not highlighted and this is a weakness. Why is it that ethnic professionals have done so well in relative terms? What are the cultural factors which support this progress? How can the UK learn from this? The membership of this panel was not as ethnically diverse as we would have liked it. In some professions like accountancy and medicine, the ethnic representation is huge and out of proportion to their UK numbers.

At Diverse Ethics, we believe fair access requires:

  • A strong emphasis on integrity, values and ethics as a mark of a true professional
  • Making values and character a key component of recruitment to the professions
  • Ensuring the elitist aspects of British education be replaced by a ranking of universities on the grounds of ethics and student experience, not just academic performance and evaluation
  • Professional bodies should actively engage with communities, including disadvantaged groups, not in a patronising way, but in a creative way to enable them to understand how their futures could be improved and providing support and mentoring
  • Good practices should be widely propagated - if some ethnic communities have done exceptionally well, this should be studied and the results shared widely.

You can read the full report in the resources section of this article. We welcome your comments. 

Dr. Atul Shah, Diverse Ethics

Article added on 23rd February 2010 at 4:47pm
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