Standard Life Aberdeen Supports Social Mobility Pledge

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Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) today (24th August) hosted former Secretary of State for Education the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP on the Scottish leg of her national social mobility tour. The summer-long tour of schools, colleges and businesses across the UK is championing social mobility and uncovering some of the issues faced by people as they attempt to progress in life. 

The Social Mobility Pledge, founded by Justine in partnership with UK fintech entrepreneur David Harrison of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility, takes an entrepreneurial approach to tackling low social mobility in the UK. 

SLA’s commitment to the Pledge builds on the company’s work to create a better future for all. SLA was one of the original 11 Social Mobility Champions recognised by the UK Government and has been named as one of the top 50 companies in the UK Social Mobility Employer Index. An accredited Living Wage Employer, between 2012 and 2017 SLA increased the percentage of people aged 25 and under in its UK workforce from 0.4% to 9%. 

The focus of the visit was the initiatives that can have a positive impact on the future of young people, providing insight from leading employers in Scotland and the charities who have expertise in both the challenges from and the potential solutions to social mobility. 

Justine started the day at St Roch’s Secondary School in Glasgow. The School has around 530 pupils, 85% of who come from the 20% most deprived postcodes in Scotland and over 60% come from the 10% most deprived postcodes in Scotland. 30% of pupils have English as an additional language. The school’s motto is Alios Adiuva meaning Help Others and Justine heard first-hand how an education with social mobility at its core can have a positive impact on young people’s life chances. 

Justine then visited The Prince’s Trust centre in Glasgow where Scotland Director, Kate Still, showcased some of The Trust’s programmes including Get Hired. Since the start of the partnership between Standard Life Aberdeen and The Prince’s Trust, over 3,500 young people have been supported through Get Hired events across the UK and as a result helped nearly 1,500 young people to secure work. The visit provided Justine with the opportunity to talk directly with young people about their journey.

Justine Greening MP said: "The Social Mobility Pledge is about businesses large and small committing to doing more to unlock opportunities and tapping into more local talent. “It was great to talk to some of the young people in Glasgow and hear how the Pledge is enabling them to make the most of their talents. The Prince’s Trust and businesses, including Standard Life Aberdeen have signed up to the Pledge and it was invaluable to hear their perspective on why being involved matters so much to them. For Standard Life Aberdeen this is not only the right thing to do, but also it’s great business sense, widening their access to talent.

“The work they are all doing will make a big difference to social mobility in Britain. There’s no time to waste making the most of Britain’s talent and I urge other companies to join us in making 21st century Britain the country it can be, in which a person’s background no longer shapes how far they can go in life.”

Sandy Begbie CBE, Global Integration Director, Standard Life Aberdeen, then chaired a round table discussion with a mix of local businesses and third sector organisations on the positive impact that collaboration can have on the very real issue of social mobility, focusing on partnership, access and recruitment.

Sandy commented: “We were delighted to host the Scottish leg of the Social Mobility Pledge UK tour and help drive forward this very important agenda that is at the heart of how we operate across the globe. In partnership with charities we work in schools, colleges and universities to support development of character, life skills, mental wellbeing and connections to the world of work. We have developed and embedded a programme of initiatives from early years through to mid-career, focusing on providing equal opportunities for all and breaking down barriers at work. I would encourage other businesses to get involved and encourage and support social mobility in all their employment practices.”

Kate Still, Scotland Director at The Prince’s Trust said: “Young people have a wealth of untapped potential ready to be mobilised for good. When we invest in young people, and develop their skills and confidence to live, learn and earn, we support them to succeed. Support from partners like Standard Life Aberdeen is vital to ensuring that every young person has the chance to succeed, regardless of their background. When businesses invest in young people’s futures, they are securing the future success of our country too.”

The Pledge sees companies commit to working with local schools and colleges, offering work placements and apprenticeships and adopting open recruitment policies such as name-blind and contextual recruitment. It aims to ensure employees can reach their full potential and progress in their careers based on talent, not their upbringing, accent or personal connections with bosses.

A number of the UK’s major employers, including John Lewis, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, ITV and True Potential have also signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge.

Justine has long fought to improve social mobility in the United Kingdom and left the Government in January, so she could continue her campaign. Growing up in Rotherham, she experienced unemployment within her own family and became the first person in her family to go to university. Later she became the first Education Secretary to have been educated at a comprehensive school.

Matthew McPherson