5 ways to make a tangible difference to social mobility

Apr 29, 2024 | Diversity, Home Featured, How-to

There are some practical steps employers can take to make a difference to social mobility, explains Jayne Cullen, Freelance Consultant at 106 Communications.

ISE’s EDI sub-committee on social mobility hosted a recent webinar with employers to explore the key business drivers, challenges and successes of putting social mobility front and centre of their talent strategies.

The takeouts from this session provide some practical guidance for employers wanting to make a difference.

1. Use the right tools and partners

Browne Jacobson use the Social Mobility Foundation as an instructional manual – helping understand how well their own current approach is performing and what it is missing.

Employers can also participate in the SMF’s Social Mobility Index. To start the conversation internally, it can be helpful to host lunch and learn sessions with the SMF.

2. Create a fairer process

Creating a fairer recruitment process needs to ask questions about the role and what you are looking for. Areas to consider include:

• Removal of academic requirements (no correlation with performance)
• Potential rather than competency model
• Contextual recruitment
• Anonymous CVs
• Motivational questions around the employer specifically and the industry more broadly
• Ensuring cost of participation isn’t prohibiting candidates from less advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds (LSEB) from applying – paying train fares for interviews upfront rather than re-imbursing.

3. Refocus outreach activity

It can be helpful to refocus outreach activity, including promotion to the wider industry and profession to include lower socio-economic audiences in cold spots. This means less focus on employer branding and more focus on LSEB audiences. A recent ISE webinar looked at how universities can play a role.

4. Provide paid work experience

Providing paid work experience, removing any unpaid opportunities and championing this approach within your industry can drive real change.

Centralising work experience can help to ensure a level playing field and reduce any nepotism from within the business. Also, ringfence work experience placements for students from LSE and ethnic minority backgrounds. If an opportunity is given to a client connection, then arrange a reciprocal paid experience for a LSE student in the client firm.

5. Use data

Some employers measure and publish class pay gap data. It’s important to helping people (both internally and in the candidate pool) to understand what you are collecting, why and how you are going to use any data.

You may also be interested in…

How to work with universities to unlock social mobility

How to put social mobility at the heart of future talent strategy

4 ways to break down the barriers to social mobility

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