#1 employer for social mobility, Grant Thornton, reveals all

The Social Mobility Employer Index is a joint initiative between the Social Mobility Foundation, the Social Mobility Commission and the City of London Corporation and aims to recognise those firms who are taking positive action to ensure an employee’s socioeconomic background neither hinders their chance of selection nor their opportunity of promotion.

It’s also the chance for employers to share what they’ve been doing. Having claimed 1st position, we get to hear from Sacha Romanovitch, CEO at Grant Thornton UK LLP, as to her thoughts on the subject. She said “We started our social mobility journey over three years ago with a vision for the firm to be more representative of all levels of society.  Investing in social mobility is a win-win and a great example of business doing well by doing good.  Businesses get access to a hidden talent pool, bringing diverse perspectives and better reflecting the clients we serve.  Communities benefit through recognition of talent and the reward of opportunities and development.”

Many businesses have similar admirable sentiments, but few action them as successfully as Grant Thornton. So, what practical measures have they taken? In recent years, Grant Thornton made numerous changes to its school leaver and graduate trainee selection process, including the removal of academic barriers to entry and removing the emphasis on relevant work experience and extra-curricular achievements.  They also switched out their aptitude test provider to one that could prove its process did not discriminate based on socioeconomic background. Nowadays, the aptitude test focuses on identifying talent and cultural fit.  But it’s not just about the recruitment process, they’re also providing ongoing coaching and peer-to-peer networking for continuous development.

And they’re reaping the rewards and seeing real evidence that the steps they’re taking are working. Statistics show that 17% of Grant Thornton’s intake for school leaver and graduate programmes in 2016 would have been previously unable to apply based on academic criteria, including secondary school performance and degree classification. They’ve also seen a 47% increase in applications for their school leaver programme, with trainees joining the firm across 20 different office locations.

What’s more, when they examined the 2014/2015 intake and data from the annual review process, 38% of those who would have been previously screened out due to academic requirements are considered to be strong performers, compared to 34% of those who would have passed the previous screening.  Overall, there is little difference in performance between the two groups.

Sacha Romanovitch went on to say, “Unlocking the potential of all in society to contribute fully is key to the future of the UK, where we have an opportunity to build a vibrant economy where no one is left behind.  Increasing social mobility is a practical way for business to make a difference. By taking steps together, we can help build a positive future and a society that creates opportunities for all.”

It’s an inspirational stance. One can only hope that the momentum from this report, and shared learnings can only serve to incentivise other employers to re-evaluate their practices too.


Monday, 3 July 2017

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#1 employer for social mobility, Grant Thornton, reveals all