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I had to pinch myself when I heard the arch-capitalists at KPMG want 29% of senior staff to be from a working-class background

16 13 25

​​When I read this week that accountancy giant KPMG plans to become one of the first major UK firms to set a target for the number of senior staff from working-class backgrounds, I almost fell off my chair.

Not because I think this is a revolutionary act, or that KPMG is some evil-doer capitalist seeing the error of its ways, but simply because they used the term working class. The group wants 29% of its partners and directors to come from a working-class background by 2030, which it defines as having parents with “routine and manual” jobs, such as drivers and cleaners.

Now, this is astonishing to me as a British sociologist and a working-class academic who is engaged in a constant daily battle to have it acknowledged that the British class system is not only insidious, embedded and very much alive and well in Britain today, but that the very terms themselves, working class and the class system, must be used.

Let me explain why. I have been on working-class watch for about twelve years, I’m a working-class sociologist, and so I have skin in this particular game. Over the past 20 years, I have noticed that use of the term ‘the class system’ has been unpopular in mainstream political and media discourse. It started in the Tony Blair years, when John Prescott, a working-class........

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