Too few people from working class backgrounds progress to positions of power. For some, their postcode will limit their voice and bind them at the periphery. Leadership potential exists in young people regardless of their background or family income, yet the chances to progress in the workplace are often limited by childhood circumstance. It must be ensured that in order for a more just society our leadership accurately reflects the needs of diverse communities. Race, gender and social class are intersectional - but each burn equally as brightly on their own. True diversity includes all three. This is why we must provoke honest conversation around the class ceiling.
The idea of Fairer Futures was born out of the frustration of Northern working class young people, who shared their experiences of the numerous obstacles they faced when seeking employment. This said, what makes Fairer Futures so unique is that the conversation around employment isn't limited to access but also progression into positions of leadership and influence.
Much of the discourse around social mobility and youth leadership places the onus on young people to better excel themselves in order to reach the top. Fairer Futures takes a top-down approach, focusing on what employers can do better to widen access to young people from working class backgrounds. The programme conducted an initial research report aiming to reflect the diversity strategies regarding social class within business, politics and the media. The benefits of this approach are paramount - by producing recommendations for employers in improving social mobility there isn't just an end goal of recruitment policy change but a social policy change.
The sense of 'burning injustice' Theresa May spoke of in her speech at Downing Street in July has highlighted the increasing discussion around social mobility in the U.K. The social mobility measures set up by the government in March 2016 are also a necessary step in the right direction. The people missing from these debates however are the people it affects most- young people.
Drawing upon the research report as well as individual experience, young people aged 18-25 have therefore produced a manifesto of the solutions they have identified in tackling these barriers. These points are to be adopted by employers alongside a bespoke service from RECLAIM, the innovative youth leadership and social change charity based in Manchester, turning them into a sustainable practice.
What they hope will be introduced is a level playing field - where young people regardless of postcode are offered the same leadership opportunities. When you employ a working class young person into a position of influence, it's not just the aspirations of the individual raised' but also the aspirations of the community they come from. Employment needs to be accessible and rewarding for working class young people. It is time to create a more prosperous society where young working class people can thrive and progress to the highest levels.
The class ceiling exists now more than ever. Fairer Futures will change that. www.reclaimproject.org.uk/fairer-futures/