Facing class discrimination is no joke.
“I don’t understand how people live on council estates, it’s just filled with chavs."
BY SYEDA AKHTAR
Chav. One simple word that evokes a myriad of images: guests from The Jeremy Kyle Show, characters from Eastenders, Vicky Pollard from Little Britain, and so much more. It’s a word that you wouldn’t dare to say, but your manager, who truly believes he’s a part of the 1% that Jeremy Corbyn is threatening to tax because he earns £50k per year, throws it around like it’s no big deal.
But it is. Especially if you come from a working-class background.
The tech industry in particular is one that’s dominated by the ‘non-working class’ who don’t understand how off-the-cuff remarks can affect the workplace culture and, most importantly, your self-esteem. You feel disconnected from the rest of your colleagues, wondering if that’s how they truly feel about people who come from a less privileged background. The attitude, the stereotypes, the snobby tone that people speak to you with will never go away until we address class disparity in the workplace. After all, working class individuals generally earn 17 per cent less than their privileged colleagues. And that gap only increases when combined with other factors like gender, race and sexuality.
So, how do we address what appears to be a non-issue to most people? The sensible solution would be to educate people about social inequality and gently tell them that “chav” is an inappropriate term to use. They would listen, apologise and never say it again. And that would be the end of that.
I have to laugh.
This isn’t an episode from an American coming-of-age drama where everyone gradually descends into a thunderous round of applause because you stood up for the little people. It’s real life and real life doesn’t work like that. The harsh reality is that you’d be mocked and further outcasted for even daring to speak up (no one wants to be around someone who disrupts the status-quo and puts everyone’s jobs on the line). A practical, although short-term, solution would be is to find allies within your workplace. However, what would definitely change the game in the long run is encouraging more young working-class individuals to enter predominantly middle-class industries, like tech, as there’s strength in numbers. Their very existence would challenge people’s preconceived notions.
If none of that works, then invite your classist colleague to debate you on Good Morning Britain and let a shouty Piers Morgan decide for you.