How do you talk openly about class in the workplace?
In all likelihood, there’s an important conversation about the importance of diversity and inclusion going on at every level in your workforce and across your industry, too. But with many workplaces openly discussing the experiences of different groups in the modern workforce, there’s a strong chance that class and socioeconomic background (SEB) isn’t on your agenda, yet…
But it should be. Whether they’re looking to get hired, network or secure a promotion, low SEB employees can find that established policies and cultural norms favour their more privileged peers. As a result they may either find themselves struggling to match the progress of their colleagues or hiding their background in order to do so.
No one should have to hide their background to get ahead. An environment where employees can talk openly about class and SEB is a more inclusive workplace – one where low SEB colleagues feel able to bring their whole selves to work, where high SEB colleagues can better understand what it means to be an ally, and where myths and stereotypes can be challenged openly. Done right, it should help to debias your processes and improve employee retention.
SMC Employers Masterclass: How to talk About Class in the workplace
27 April, 1-2pm
Our next masterclass will explore what a healthy, inclusive conversation about class and socioeconomic background looks like, and how you can help everyone in your workplace to get involved.
For this event, we’ve invited James HIllhouse, Co-founder, Commercial Break and Tim Smith, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP (BCLP), to share success stories of starting conversations about class in the workplace, based on their own experiences.
HR and D&I superstars can’t drive this conversation alone. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of every channel available to you – from leadership and internal communications through to employee advocacy, focus groups and networks. In this masterclass, we’ll aim to support your efforts by exploring approaches to:
- Building the narrative: Having a clear vision for what you want to talk about, how you intend to communicate and why this matters to the business
- Getting leadership buy-in: getting leaders on board is crucial and can help show that the conversation is important to the future of the business
- Starting the conversation: from the initial internal comms to the early discussion groups, starting the conversation in an inclusive and sensitive way is important, as is finding opportunities to engage your employees in the conversation
- Involving allies: allyship is important – whether or not you’re in a leadership role, the most effective way to support working class colleagues is by getting involved and by being willing to listen and learn
About the speakers
Tim is a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP (BCLP). BCLP is a global law firm with 1,400 lawyers across 31 offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. Tim was firmwide Graduate Recruitment partner for 6 years and now co-heads the firm’s Social Inclusivity & Ethnicity group. He is a Trustee of both The Bridge Group and the Aspiring Solicitors Foundation and having chaired the Advisory Board to PRIME, he was appointed as a full Board member earlier this year.
James is the co-founder of Commercial Break, an organisation focused on increasing working class representation in the creative and marketing industries. Commercial Break works with companies to ensure they’re properly set up for working class talent to thrive in them, and young working class creatives to help them access the careers their talent deserves.