Birmingham banking report prompts media buzz

Business school researchers help spark debate on barriers to investment banking roles for less privileged applicants.

Birmingham Business School researchers, Professor Jo Duberley, Dr Holly Birkett and Dr Etlyn Kenny, along with colleague Dr Louise Ashley from Royal Holloway, University of London, released a report on 1 September that has received high levels of national and international media attention.  The report, entitled Socio-Economic Diversity in Life Sciences and Investment Banking, was written for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and combines two reports focusing on issues around access to these sectors for individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Their research focused on access to front office roles of investment banks for less privileged applicants. Their findings indicated that, despite efforts within the sector, systemic barriers for applicants who did not have the ‘right’ social background remain. In addition, the increasing requirement for applicants to have significant exposure to or work experience within investment banking in order to be considered for entry positions stacked the odds further against non-privileged applicants. The evidence suggested that those without previous connections did not know about sector-specific social codes of behaviour that could hinder career progression. 

Since its release, the report has received significant regional, national and international media attention. In the UK, this has included coverage from the BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Financial Times (paywall access); media outlets based in the USA, Australia and Ireland have also commented on the report.

The Social Mobility Commission is an advisory public body, providing recommendations on how the UK Government can aid social mobility across British society.