Social mobility – interventions that work

Mar 3, 2021 | Diversity | 0 comments

An ISE webinar discussed diversity and inclusion with a focus on socio-economic background and experts shared ideas for successful interventions.

Most people want to work in an organisation where talent and hard work enable progression rather than background, race, gender or sexuality. However, too often than not, this is not the case.

Effective social mobility must address issues across the whole work cycle: attraction, recruitment, development, and progression.

 

Importance of data

Nik Miller, Chief Executive of the Bridge Group explained how important data is to exploring, understanding and making an impact around diversity and inclusion.

He highlighted that to be robust and convincing we need to be able to measure and evaluate. By understanding the data employers have a better chance at designing more effective interventions.

Nik shared three key questions that can help employers to understand and measure socio-economic background:

The main question employers are encouraged to ask applicants, hires and their wider workforce is ‘What was the occupation of your main household earner when you were aged about 14?’

Employers could also consider asking, ‘Which type of school did you attend for the most time between the ages of 11 and 16?’ and ‘If you finished school after 1980, were you eligible for free school meals at any point during your school years?’

 

Business case

The panel highlighted why organisations are focusing more on social mobility.

Research by the Bridge Group in the legal sector showed that candidates from lower socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to be high performers, but also more likely to leave.

As reiterated by Tim Smith, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, “if you wanted an Economic argument for doing this, here are people who you’ve attracted, recruited and trained and you’re just about to get a ROI and at that point they’re walking out the door because they don’t feel there’s the right cultural fit within the organisation.

“So if we can foster a culture of inclusivity then the talent that we’ve attracted and trained is much more likely to stay and start to benefit the organisation as a whole”

 

Early engagement

Perceptions and stereotypical views of particular careers and who does them are developed at an early age.

Claire England, Director of Diversity and Inclusion UK, JLL explained the benefit of engaging with schools early to talk about careers and taking people from different backgrounds into schools.

Summarising, she said, “Engage with schools, engage with young people, break down myths and provide them with role models that are like them that they can identify with”.

 

Successful interventions

Interventions don’t necessarily need significant investment and low cost, high impact, low risk solutions exist. The panel explored some of the practical activities recruiters can do to attract people into their organisations and also thrive once they’re hired.

André Flemmings, Bridge Group trustee, and consultant explained how employers have evolved their activities:

“ A lot of people have moved away from plenary type sessions where we learn about how wonderful your firm is, and how many offices you have in different countries…what young people need is something that engages and educates them.

“Some of the firms I’ve worked with, we’ve worked really hard to work with our L&D teams to have a curriculum that underpins what’s going on on-campus and feeds into their on-going learning that they’ll need to do once they’re through the door.

“This has been really helpful, in terms of not just the nuts and bolts of what people do in the job but also thinking about health and wellbeing issues and how they cope and make the most of the opportunities that are in front of them.”

Many thanks to our expert panel that took part in the webinar:

  • Nik Miller, Chief Executive of the Bridge Group
  • André Flemmings, Bridge Group trustee, consultant
  • Tim Smith, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Claire England, Director of Diversity and Inclusion UK, JLL

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