Who Are First-Generation Professionals?
As access to higher education has increased, resources dedicated to helping first-generation college students, i.e., students who are the first in their family to attend college, graduate have grown significantly. Nearly five million undergraduate students identify as first-generation, and those students are entering the workforce.
However, according to a study by the National Career Development Association, many problems first-generation students face in college, such as lack of established networks, fewer opportunities for professional development, or feelings of exclusion, follow graduates into the workplace. This category of employees is deemed first-generation professionals (FGPs) and is defined as white-collar professionals from working-class backgrounds.
While employee resource groups (ERGs) have evolved rapidly over the past five years, the resources available for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds have not received the same level of attention as other social identifiers (e.g., LGBTQ+, African–American or Black, Hispanic or Latine, people with disabilities, veterans or working parents). Yet, research has shown class bias leads to several negative effects in the workplace.
While there is only a small body of emerging research on the best practices to support first-generation employees, companies can take steps to help FGPs with existing diversity and inclusion resources. Creating information centers and talent management strategies to alleviate class bias will ensure skilled first-generation professionals are not pushed out of the talent lifecycle as well as ensure there is an inclusive workplace for individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds