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Businesses pledge to even the playing field for our young people
18 September 2018
Social mobility is about fulfilling potential and aspirations based on talents, without being unfairly disadvantaged because of background or perceived social class. But, for too long, it has been in shamefully low supply in Britain. Despite all the socially conscious employers here in London, not having access to opportunity remains a blockage which stops talent from a disadvantaged background getting to the top.
Having grown up in Rotherham in an ordinary family that, at times, experienced unemployment – like most people I’ve come across the class ceiling myself. Navigating my early career in business and, later, in politics, wasn’t easy.
It is staggering that, in 2018, young people in our country, including our capital city are still being prevented from pursuing their dreams because of discrimination surrounding their upbringing.
Addressing this makes a lot of business sense. Who wouldn’t want to build a fairer society whilst bringing the brightest people into your organisation?
A business pledge on Social Mobility
In January, I left government and my position as Secretary of State for Education, to launch the Social Mobility Pledge. The mission is to have businesses actively part of the solution on social mobility. John Lewis, M&S, Vodafone, Thomas Cook, Clifford Chance, True Potential, Aviva and BT are among those who have signed up.
Social Mobility Pledge-accredited employers work with local schools and colleges, offer work experience or apprenticeships and adopt open recruitment policies such as name-blind or contextual recruitment.
An unfair playing field
In a recent poll we commissioned, 69 per cent of workers aged 18 – 24 said they believe it is difficult or very difficult for a disadvantaged person in the UK to do well at work. In an earlier study, we found that half of all UK workers believe strong regional accents are a barrier to success.
Furthermore, we found that personal and family connections with management and bosses continue to give some candidates an unfair advantage over people from poorer backgrounds, with no such connections.
Important attributes like attitude, relevant skills and potential should be what drives a person’s progress at work; and it certainly shouldn’t be dictated by who they know or the randomness of where they just happened to have been brought up.
Things are beginning to change on the social mobility front and it’s been fantastic to see business supporting the Social Mobility Pledge.
But as a country our progress is nowhere near fast enough and I think business holds the key to changing that for the better. None of us can change everything on our own but you can do your bit by changing your own organisation. That’s all I’m asking. That’s all young people need. I urge employers across the country – including here in London – to step up and help us finally put Britain’s class ceiling in the past, where it belongs.
Become a member
Our members include over 200 of the capital’s leading employers across a wide range of sectors, with a common commitment to our capital.