The UK’s top companies must be more ambitious in their approach to tackling social mobility, says the City of London Corporation.
A level playing field of opportunity is in “the best interests” for all businesses, points out Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation. He warned that the UK’s long-term economic sustainability is vulnerable unless its skills gap is plugged.
Boleat’s comments were released by the Corporation to coincide with its announcement of its role as the sponsor for the Social Mobility Employers’ Index.
The initiative from the Social Mobility Foundation and Social Mobility Commission, which was announced in October last year, ranks Britain’s top businesses on how open they are to accessing talent from all backgrounds.
According to the Corporation, the index is a chance for firms to showcase real progress they are making towards improving social mobility by ensuring they recruit the best people for the job – regardless of their social background.
It points out that research consistently shows that people from more affluent backgrounds, who attend private schools and elite universities, take a disproportionate number of the best jobs and earn more.
People from working class backgrounds who get a professional job are paid an average of £6,800 (17%) less each year than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds, according to recent research by the Social Mobility Commission.
The report into the class pay gap finds that Britain’s traditional professions such as medicine, law, journalism and academia remain dominated by those from advantaged backgrounds – nearly three quarters (73%) of doctors are from professional and managerial backgrounds with less than 6% from working class backgrounds.
So, the new index is an important benchmarking initiative targeted at ‘elite’ sectors which, traditionally, have low rates of social mobility – such as law, accountancy, media, banking and finance and the sciences, says the Corporation.
To take part, firms will answer a range of questions about their practices and procedures and they will be ranked by a panel of experts and receive recommendations for areas for improvement.
Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, says: “While an increasing number of firms are creating paid internships and apprenticeships to attract bright young people from low-income backgrounds, many others could be much more ambitious in their handling of social mobility.”