Recruiting from a broader range of social backgrounds is good for business as well as societyby Hashi Mohamed / April 8, 2017 / Leave a comment
In the summer of 2007, I had an idea that changed my life. I had just left university and was unsure what my future would look like—but I had an inkling. It could either be a safe job in the civil service, legal profession or even journalism.
Whatever it was, it was going to be very different to my past. I came to this country as a nine-year-old child refugee originally from Somalia and grew up in a disadvantaged area of north west London. My academic marks were not the greatest. I had no connection whatsoever to any of the professions I aspired to join. The odds were against me and I knew I had to be creative. I had little to lose and much to gain.
So I wrote a speculative letter to Peter Barron, then editor of Newsnight, asking to learn more about the inner workings of the programme. I told him a little about my background and cheekily added that two years earlier I had swapped watching MTV for Newsnight and had never looked back. Amazingly, Peter invited me in to spend some time with the programme. Though I didn’t end up going into full-time journalism (I am currently a barrister), the chance that Peter took on me was the moment my horizons were opened to a professional world I had known little about.
As I argue in a Radio 4 documentary to be broadcast this Tuesday evening, the kind of social mobility that got me where I am today is sadly atypical. For me luck mattered as much as talent. Peter decided to take a chance on me. Yet still there is a pervasive narrative in Britain that “if you work hard and do the right thing, you will get on.” This simply isn’t true. W…