The British public service broadcaster wants its workforce to reflect the population it serves. By 2028 at the latest, the BBC hopes that a quarter of its workforce – currently 20,300 – will come from a “lower socio-economic background”.
What does it mean? The British spot people who mark the class as bright as police dogs looking for loose marijuana. Accents, drinking regime and clothes are among the gifts. Part of television programs in the United Kingdom are lower-income Britons than teenage mothers, unruly fathers and 30-year-old grandmothers.
The BBC’s approach is more systematic. It focuses on education – public school or payment of fees – the right to free school meals and the profession of parents. The latter criterion used by the Social Mobility Commission will be the main metric for the new quota.
Everything is imperfect measures. The middle-class British pay heavily for houses in the catchment area of good public schools. A recent survey by law firm Simpson Millar set the premium at 50 percent above the national average. Additional costs may include examiners, extracurricular Mandarin lessons and holidays spent visiting the Florentine galleries.
Occupation can also be a slippery term. Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers could act as a working class. But currently the exponents include hip craftsmen with artistic titles and luxury accents. Builders who leave school at the age of 16 usually earn more than PhD lecturers.
Data from the BBC itself illustrates the vagaries of such measures. According to the BBC’s latest annual report, only 7.6 percent of employees said they received free school meals, while 11.5 percent learned privately. One-fifth came from a household with a breadwinner. Not surprisingly, the BBC is not Britain’s microcosm, with comparable figures of 20.8 per cent, 7 per cent and 39 per cent.
The BBC working class cohort is shrinking rapidly as it is filtered by leadership, with 17.5 percent saying they have a paid education.
The broadcaster is not alone in promoting class diversity. KPMG wants 29 percent of its partners and directors to be a working class by 2030, up from 23 percent and 20 percent today.
Politicians like to praise diversity. But almost a third of MEPs were privately educated at the time of the 2019 British elite administration. The same is true for more than half of senior judges, permanent secretaries of the civil service and diplomats. Social mobility has been at almost the same level since World War II. The change should start from above.
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