Helping workers from poorer backgrounds fulfil their potential
There is great focus today on providing equal-education opportunities for individuals from poorer backgrounds to help them attain socioeconomic mobility, thereby reducing the attainment gap and inequality. Organisations are the primary source of economic value-generation but, while some studies suggest that large organisations mitigate inequality, a strong body of research points to evidence of a class-origin pay gap; such that, even when people from poorer backgrounds enter high-status occupations, they earn significantly less than those from privileged backgrounds.
The reasons why individuals from poorer backgrounds do not attain similar levels of success as those from wealthier backgrounds are not well understood. Using a novel field intervention, this research implements targeted interventions with individuals from poorer backgrounds in selected organisations in India to boost one’s sense of ‘agency’ (control over their work), leading to an increase in performance and reduction in job stress, and examine whether the intervention helps reduce the attainment gap.
Understanding how employees’ background can affect workplace success will contribute to existing literature in this field and lead to further research. More significantly, equipping employees from poorer backgrounds with the tools to fulfil their potential can be utilised by organisations around the world to empower next-generation leaders to create further impact. This research is thus a step towards designing organisational interventions and culture that can help reduce the attainment gap and create a more equitable society.
- Madan Pillutla, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School
Anurag Gupta, PhD Student, Organisational Behaviour, graduating class 2022 at London Business School. Anurag’s research broadly focuses on social class and socioeconomic mobility. His aim is to promote inclusion and effective talent utilisation of workers from poorer backgrounds in organisations.