There are many prejudices that could prevent you from rising the social ladder and securing a job at a top investment bank or power brokerage firm. It turns out that wearing brown shoes is on that list if you live in the United Kingdom.
“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 and corporate finance division,” states a new study from the governmental Social Mobility Commission
We all know that going to the wrong school is a sure-fire way to get turned down, as is the lack of the right connections. Then there are the softer aspects, some of which can be outright discriminatory. People with non-traditional names in the City of London or Wall Street may find it harder to get an interview, for example.
Even some who do make it through the door may be looked down upon if they have an accent from a region that doesn’t typically produce CEOs and analysts. Then there is age — being too old or too young for the role can find you missing out to someone else.
And apparently brown shoes are also included due to “unwritten rules of dress and behavior” that “do play a material role in the selection process,” according to the study.
Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn, head of the Social Mobility Commission, considers this preposterous. “It is shocking…that some investment bank managers still judge candidates on whether they wear brown shoes with a suit rather on than their skills and potential,” he said.
For the agency, this dress code faux pas is just one example of the larger issue: The financial services industry is overwhelmingly insular and students who did not grow up in the right places have a very difficult time breaking into the sector.
“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,” said Milburn. “While there are some banks that are doing excellent work in reducing these barriers, there are still too many that need to wake up and realize that it makes sound business sense to recruit people from all backgrounds.”