First published in Accountancy Today on June 24th 2022
Last week saw the UK’s first Social Mobility Awareness Day, a day designed to improve awareness of what social mobility is, why it is important, and how organisations across all industries can take action.
According to the UK Government, social mobility is defined as the link between a person’s occupation or income, and the occupation or income of their parents. Where there is a strong link, there is a lower level of social mobility. Where there is a weak link, there is a higher level of social mobility.
It’s an issue I feel is of real importance. Growing up my father was a market trader, and I learned the importance of a strong work ethic from him. I studied very hard and eventually got the chance to work in an accountancy firm having written hundreds of application letters. Now in my role as managing partner, I am passionate about giving less privileged young adults the opportunity to progress.
Last week’s action day came at a much-needed time, with the UK having one of the lowest rates of social mobility in the developed world, meaning that individuals who are born into low-income households do not have access to the same opportunities as those born into more privileged circumstances.
The UK Government’s Social Mobility Barometer 2021 highlights that more than half of the public think that the pandemic has played a role in increasing social inequality, and four in five adults now believe there is a large gap between different social classes.
The findings also show that an increasing number of people believe that employers should be taking action to improve social mobility – 42% in 2021 compared with 31% in 2019.
Encouraging social mobility doesn’t only help individuals. Having a workforce from all different backgrounds and starts in life fosters greater diversity of thought and ways of working. Having this variety of perspectives is important to ensure that work is completed to the best level it can be.
In order to achieve a truly diverse workforce, it is important to make sure that your organisation is taking active steps to attract and retain talent from all backgrounds. We share below some examples that have helped HW Fisher to become a more inclusive workplace.
These are only some of the ways that employers can help tackle this growing issue, and we recognise that there is a lot more that needs to be done across the country to ensure that quality work opportunities are available to everyone – regardless of their background.
However, it is great to see the creation of more action groups and action days to highlight the importance of this issue, and even more positive to see businesses across all industries taking responsibility and action to make the workplace a more inclusive environment.