Brown shoes could mean you fail a job interview

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(P1) People who want to be investment bankers in London could be disappointed if they wear brown shoes. A report shows the investment banking industry follows old rules about how bankers should behave. Researchers found that the industry followed unclear codes of conduct. They wrote: “For men, the wearing of brown shoes with a business suit is generally considered unacceptable within investment banking.”

(P2) The report suggested that working class people had to change their behavior to fit in. One banker said: “I felt like my accent was a bit out of place, so I changed it.” The study said the industry discriminated against those who did not go to elite universities. It said: “Bright, working-class kids are being systematically locked out of top jobs. It is shocking that some still judge candidates on whether they wear brown shoes rather than on their skills.”

WORDS: 142


VOCABULARY: unclear, fit in, accent, discriminated, elite, working-class


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Would you like to work in the banking industry? Why or why not?
  3. Are old rules still followed in your country? If so, describe one of the old rules.
  4. In your opinion, do you think brown shoes are unprofessional? Why or why not?


  1. Which city is mentioned in the article?
  2. According to the article, wearing brown shoes with a business suit is totally not acceptable in the banking industry. (T or F)
  3. Upper-class people also have to change the way they act to be accepted. (T or F)
  4. If you went to a prestigious university, you were more likely to get a job in the banking industry. (T or F)
  5. According to the study, which social class finds it difficult to be hired for higher up positions?



What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • follows old rules (P1)
  • within investment banking (P1)
  • a bit out of place (P2)
  • locked out (P2)

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Image source: by “unknown”

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