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Paul Ingram

Research Findings

Who is the boss? The social class disadvantage for becoming a manager is big and it’s costly

December 10, 2020

Social class is arguably the greatest barrier to advancement at work, yet it is mostly ignored by companies’ diversity, inclusion and equity efforts. In a recent study with Jean Oh, we found that in the U.S., individuals from lower social-class origins face disadvantages at least as large as women and Black Americans in terms of becoming a manager. In most countries around the globe, we found, the social-class disadvantage is even greater than it is in the U.S.! And, the social class disadvantage impacts a lot of people—around the world, more people identify with lower than higher social classes.

Of course, individuals from lower social class origins suffer losses because they are less likely to become managers, as managerial roles are associated with job satisfaction, health, and income. But companies and countries also suffer from this exclusion.

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