Why social mobility is the ‘golden thread’ for EDI

May 11, 2023 | Diversity, Home Featured, Opinion

A government taskforce highlights why social mobility is the golden thread for EDI and what early talent teams can learn from it, explains Simon Reichwald at Connectr.

A government taskforce, commissioned by HM Treasury and Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, is improving social mobility. Set up in November 2022 and running for two years, it engages hundreds of employers of all sizes across the UK along with their senior leaders.

The structure was to have three work streams. One focused on sector consultation, another on the business case and the third to create a new sector body to drive the necessary change. The taskforce sought to identify the barriers faced by those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. It also looked at how they can be addressed.


A ‘golden thread’

Tackling diversity by focusing on one or two specific characteristics, as most firms do, is not delivering the extent of change we all want to see. In part this is due to the nature of intersectionality. Each employee has several diversity characteristics and by addressing just one means meaningful change is limited or slow. Annabelle Woghiren explains why it’s crucial to recognise intersectionality in the workplace. The more overlapping characteristics employees have, the more challenges to equity of opportunity they will face. This means that we need to address EDI in a more holistic way.

A report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) measures what leadership underestimate compared to what employees see as critical. Socioeconomic diversity is one of these factors. Socio-economic diversity acts as a multiplier and removes barriers for many underrepresented groups. This means that by focusing on socioeconomic diversity as part of a more holistic approach, employers can super-charge EDI change. This is the main reason why the taskforce was set up to focus on addressing social mobility.

The Social Mobility Foundation further explains why this is important.


What does this mean for employers?

What can we draw from the taskforce to help employers have EDI at the heart of their early talent strategies and thus hire more diverse talent? There is a need for:

  • Social mobility focused targeting: To do this, employers need to capture social mobility data. This should be at entry point and for existing talent too. To do this effectively, building psychological safety is key.
  • Raising aspirations and a sense of belonging: Candidates should have easy access to peers – existing apprentices and graduates. As role models they can tell their story and share their experiences authentically.
  • Evidence of fairness throughout hiring and development processes
  • More use of mentoring and, importantly, how to make the most of mentors
  • The use of technology to democratise access

To learn more about this along with how to practically apply it with case studies, watch Connectr’s session taking place at noon on 13 June 2023 at ISE’s Student Recruitment Conference.


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Why the UK is still socially immobile and what to do about it

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