Loud ties & brown shoes wrong foot grads at banks

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Graduates struggle to access jobs at investment banks because of cultural faux pas such as brown shoes or loud ties, a report says.

According to a new report by the Social Mobility Commission Fund, graduates can struggle to access prestigious roles at investment banks because they are not "polished" or "the right fit". The report finds opportunities for graduates from working class background limited for front office staff.

One of the main discoveries of the report was a focus by hiring mangers on characteristics like accent, dress and behaviours, as well as skills and qualifications. The report highlights brown shoes as a particular example.

"Relatively opaque codes of conduct also extend to dress," he report says.

"To provide one example - for men the wearing of brown shoes with a business suit is generally, though not always, considered unacceptable by and for British bankers within the investment banking (corporate finance) division."

The report also noted one anecdote from a "non-privileged background" after he interviewed for a position in a bank.

"He said you're clearly quite sharp, but... you're not quite the fit for [this bank]... you're not polished enough... he looked at me and said, 'see that tie you're wearing? It's too loud. Like you can't wear that tie with the suit that you're wearing'."

"What kind of industry is this where I can be told that I'm a good candidate, I'm sharp, but I'm not polished enough?"

Alan Milburn, Chairman of the Social Mobility Commission Fund, says these rules are having negative effects on working class graduates.

"Bright working-class kids are being systematically locked out of top jobs in investment banking because they may not attend a small handful of elite universities or understand arcane culture rules."

"While there are some banks doing excellent work in reducing these barriers, there are still too many that need to wake up and realise that it makes sound business sense to recruit people from all backgrounds."

A spokesperson from the British Bankers Association has told BBC News.

"The banking industry has made significant strides to improve social mobility at all levels but recognises that we cannot afford to be complacent on this crucial issue"

Image Credit: Nico Beard