Two million workers covered by Social Mobility Pledge

Employers representing over two million workers have signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge, helping to tackle Britain’s widespread and endemic lack of social mobility.

Exactly a year on from its launch, many of the UK’s biggest employers spanning a range of sectors are now backing the Pledge.  

All Social Mobility Pledge-accredited employers have committed to working with local schools and colleges and offering work experience and apprenticeships. 

Pledge companies have also committed to having fair recruitment, through hiring and progressing talent from all backgrounds; and will adopt various practices that enable them to do so, including ‘name-blind’ and contextual recruitment. 

Over 220 organisations have signed up to the Pledge, including BP, Sainsbury’s, True Potential, WH Smith, Greggs, Morrisons, National Grid, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Vodafone, ITV and BT.

Professionals services firms to have signed up include Clifford Chance, PwC, KPMG, EY, Aviva, Deloitte and Grant Thornton.

The construction sector is backing the Pledge, with Galliford Try, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey and Morgan Sindall Group all signed up. 

Universities are also well represented, with Aston, Nottingham Trent, London South Bank and York St John universities all on board. Joining them are the universities of Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sunderland, Warwick and Sussex, as well as Kings College London. 

Sporting organisations that have committed, meanwhile, include Manchester United FC, Halifax Rugby League FC and Hampshire Cricket and Leisure Holdings Ltd.  

Local authorities have also committed to the pledge with Wandsworth Borough Council and Milton Keynes Council supporting as employers. 

Research published this month by the Social Mobility Pledge shows that upbringing, family connections and the school a person attended continue to unfairly influence career progress. 

Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK workers believe “who you know” makes the biggest difference to someone’s chances of being successful in their career, followed by “the school they went to” and “the amount of money they have”.

The study of 2,000+ employees from a range of industries also showed that 56 per cent of people believe the Government is not doing enough to tackle social mobility.

Meanwhile, 81 per cent believe that social mobility should be a factor in how a university’s performance is measured.  

Our research also suggests that businesses would benefit commercially from being more social mobility-conscious. Eighty-six per cent of respondents said they are more inclined to buy from companies that have a good reputation on how they treat their staff.  

Rt Hon Justine Greening MP left Government in January 2018 to continue her long-standing campaign for more social mobility in Britain.

The former Secretary of State for Education progressed to frontline politics on the back of a working-class upbringing in which she experienced unemployment in her own family, attended a comprehensive school in Rotherham and became the first member of her family to go to university. 

She said: “Social mobility means being able to progress in life through your hard work, talent, skills and determination. For too long background, perceived class, accent and family connections have eclipsed these factors – and unfairly stopped disadvantaged people from fulfilling their career potential. This must change and we hope the Pledge will go a long way towards doing that, but as part of a much wider response that is also clearly needed. 

“The first year of the Social Mobility Pledge has shown it can be a powerful force for change and we will now work with even more businesses in the coming months. Let’s face it, Brexit is consuming government and Parliament, so it’s never been more crucial that businesses step up to the plate.” 

Co-founder of the Pledge, David Harrison, is creator of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility and executive chairman of True Potential – a UK fintech firm which employs 250 people in North East England.

David grew up in County Durham, was state educated and has created several large firms including True Potential, which is a £161m turnover business based on Tyneside.

On the Pledge’s ongoing progress, he said: “Addressing the UK’s worryingly poor approach to social mobility will benefit employees, businesses, communities and the economy. The strong take-up of the Pledge is certainly encouraging and we need more employers to join us in eradicating the lingering inequalities that exist in the UK workplace.”

Lewis Bruford