UK employers set a new benchmark for social mobility

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12 of the UK's most high-profile companies have been recognised by the Government for leading the charge in ensuring young people have a better chance of getting on the jobs ladder. The 12 companies, which are made up of a broad range of industries and cover the breadth of the UK, have been nominated as Social Mobility Business Compact 'Champions' and are pledging to take the message out to other businesses across the country.

These companies are Accenture, Aspire Group, Baker & McKenzie LLP, The Co-operative Food, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton UK LLP, KPMG LLP, Linklaters, Mears Group, Standard Life and Telefónica O2.

The Champions are driving a new benchmark for social mobility by committing to meet a set of strict criteria over the next 12 months, building on their existing work, including:

  • Developing relationships with schools and young people
  • Targeting efforts on institutions with above average levels of disadvantage
  • Widening the geographical spread of opportunities
  • Offering well-structured non-graduate entry-routes and driving forward recruitment practices that eliminate barriers to social mobility

The Champions are signatories of the Social Mobility Business Compact, which was set up by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011, to encourage employers to offer young people fair and open access to employment opportunities. Since the launch of the Compact, 10 government departments have also committed to adhering to the criteria for the next year.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is at the Skills Show, the nation's largest skills and careers event, at the NEC in Birmingham today, to launch the Social Mobility Business Compact Champion Tier. He said: "I believe that in a fair society, what counts towards your success should be the talent you have and how hard you work, not who your parents are or where you come from. I'm delighted that the Champions we have recognised today appreciate the economic value of recruiting people from all walks of life.

"Businesses know they need to find the best talent in order to succeed. This means searching beyond the usual recruitment methods and hiring young people with great potential, whatever their background. It's great to see leaders in industry backing this approach. However many businesses are still missing out, and more companies need to follow in the footsteps of the Champions we have announced today if we are to achieve our aim of a stronger economy and fairer society."

Sarah Gregory, Inclusion & Diversity Partner at Baker & McKenzie said: "Tackling social mobility underpins our vision to be a truly inclusive organisation and is key to our work in ensuring the legal profession becomes more accessible. As one of the few firms with a partner dedicated entirely to Inclusion & Diversity, we have been committed to improving access and achieving greater social mobility for a number of years. It is a privilege to have been recognised as a Champion.

"The Compact acted as a call to action and has played a key part in bringing social mobility to the forefront of our commercial objectives; since signing up to the Compact we have taken tangible steps to improve access to our Firm and to the profession, which include a range of work experience and mentoring opportunities for students and outreach volunteering programmes for our people. We encourage all UK companies to do the same".

More than 170 companies have signed up to the Social Mobility Business Compact, from sectors including legal, retail, finance and energy. The Compact is already delivering real change – over half (56%) of employers who are signatories have increased contact with disadvantaged schools since joining. Nearly all (92%) of the participating employers think fair and open recruitment will expose their company to a broader range of talent, with 82% agreeing that fair and open recruitment creates a workforce with a wider range of people that better reflects their client base.

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