KPMG come out top for social mobility

KPMG come out top for social mobility


Ten years ago, social mobility wasn’t really a thing. Well, it was, but no one talked about it. It was an accepted, rarely challenged fact of work life that people from more affluent backgrounds went to university and, in turn, nabbed the best jobs. Thank goodness times have changed. Or, at least, are changing.

And thanks to the Social Mobility Foundation, along with their sponsors the City of London Corporation, we now get access to what’s believed to be the world’s only Social Mobility Employer Index each year.

In this 2018 index, over 100 employers from 18 sectors (who employ some one million people), entered the 2018 Index. They came from a variety of sectors –  from banks, to law firms, and from Government departments, to engineering firms, retail firms and technology companies. The survey assesses employers across seven areas, including the work they do with young people, their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower income backgrounds progress within their organisations. Alongside it, over 11,000 people also took part in a voluntary employee survey.

And whilst we kind of gave the game away in the headline, KPMG came top this year (knocking the previous number one – Grant Thornton UK – to the number two slot).

Rightly so, the KPMG spokesperson Deputy Chair Melanie Richards is proud of this ranking. “Being recognised as the leading employer in the Social Mobility Employer Index is an immense source of pride to us and will spur us on to do even more together to drive forward this agenda at every level in our business. For us, social mobility is an integral part of the future of our business and the future of UK plc which is why we will be collaborating with the wider business community to build on this success. Over the coming months we will be redoubling our efforts to take this work forward to create a fairer firm, pushing for a fairer industry and increasing opportunity for all within it.”

For a business that was well-known (along with the other big consultancies), for actively pursuing large number of graduates from the Russell Group universities, they have come very far. Hats off to them.

As for the rest of those companies who are doing well, you can see the top 50 here.

The tide is definitely turning for the better, with the research showing that social diversity is now a priority for 3 in 4 employers surveyed, with the majority of employers of the 1.1 million people they represent now asking new staff questions about their background.

Here are just some of the ways in which companies are beginning to assess social mobilty. 53% of employers asked their new employees whether or not their parents went to university, with 51% asking what type of school they attended. 4 in 10 also asked their current employees these questions. Whilst 30% asked if their employees had been eligible for Free School Meals and 12% asked questions around the occupations of employees’ parents and the postcode they grew up in.

When it comes to finding more diverse undergraduates, there’s a slight shift here too, with Birmingham and Warwick universities being visited by participating employers more than Oxford this year. There were also significant increases in visits to other universities in large cities. And whilst Oxford and Cambridge are still visited more than 75 universities combined… this is down from over 110 universities combined in the 2017 Index.

Employers are also making key changes to the recruitment processes to counter bias (both unconscious and conscious). 42% of the employers analyse their recruitment process to see where those from lower socio-economic groups fall down. And now 25% of employers remove the candidate’s name from the application/screening stage of recruitment, whilst 20% remove the university attended.

There’s a lot to be celebrated in the survey, yet the reality is that we’re still in our infancy when it comes to social mobility and how to ensure that someone’s background does not hinder their employment or progression. For despite all these great measures, those from private schools remain over-represented at all levels in most of the UK’s leading firms. But let’s applaud what has been achieved and look forward to more positives to come, shall we?

David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation said, “We have been very impressed by the efforts employers are making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all backgrounds. We can really see organisations taking a whole host of actions to try and ensure that they have a diverse workforce in terms of socio-economic background as well as in terms of gender and race; they in turn are benefitting from accessing a much wider talent pool than they have traditionally recruited from. All entrants should be praised for broadening their approach.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation said, “Improving the UK’s social mobility record requires action by employers and the Index is creating a real momentum. Many leading businesses are showing real ambition in their approach to tackling the UK’s social mobility problem and it is important that firms continue to prioritise this area to help remove the barriers holding back the best and brightest in our society.

“Giving young people experience of the work environment and helping them gain skills can boost their career prospects and open up a wide pool of talent for businesses. Everyone has the right to a good career regardless of background and we must remove hurdles for young people who have the talent, but may lack the network of guidance, support and connections to get ahead. They are the future workforce which will make sure that the UK prospers in the long term.”

Sir Nick Clegg, Chairman of Social Mobility Foundation said, I’m delighted that so many organisations chose to participate in the Social Mobility Index this year. Improving social mobility across society is a collective endeavour – with Government, schools, colleges, universities, families and businesses all pulling in the same direction.

“This year’s Index shows that there is a growing appetite for employers to play their part – I warmly congratulate all those who did so, and I hope they will be joined by more employers in next year’s Index.”

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

Be the first to make a comment...