High Streets ahead on Social Mobility

John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone sign Social Mobility Pledge

Social Mobility Pledge chairman, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, welcomed businesses to Parliament as part of her campaign to improve social mobility in Britain.

She called on business leaders across the UK to sign the Social Mobility Pledge, which was launched by Ms Greening in March. The Pledge sees companies commit to working with local schools and colleges, offering apprenticeships and adopt open recruitment polices such as name-blind or contextual recruitment.

Department stores John Lewis and Marks and Spencer have been joined by mobile phones giant Vodafone in signing up to the Social Mobility Pledge.

The three retail giants represent over 183,000 employees and are the latest in a string of household names to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

Other accredited Social Mobility Employers include ITV, BT, Adidas, True Potential, PWC, KPMG and Severn Trent Water.

Meanwhile the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce as well as the Federation of Small Business have backed the Pledge by asking their members to sign up.

The Social Mobility Pledge’s co-founder, Justine Greening MP, has long fought to improve social mobility in Britain and left Government in January, so she could continue her campaign.

Ms Greening grew up in Rotherham, experiencing unemployment and life on benefits within her own family. Later she became the first Education Secretary to have been educated at a comprehensive school.

Commenting on the latest businesses to sign up to the Pledge, Justine Greening MP said: “Improving our poor social mobility is this country’s biggest challenge, but our biggest opportunity. Britain will not truly succeed until it becomes a country where there is equality of opportunity for the first time.

“I know first-hand how hard it can be to smash the class ceiling that still exists. Too often where you are going in your life is dictated by where you started and that is simply unacceptable.”

Co-founder of the Social Mobility Pledge, David Harrison, of UK fintech firm True Potential, added: “Businesses are key drivers of social mobility and play an important role in creating opportunities in Britain. All those companies that have signed up so far are helping to improve social mobility and I encourage other businesses to join them and sign the Pledge.”

Also speaking at the event in Parliament were Big Issue founder Lord John Bird, Chichester MP Gillian Keegan and Guy Opperman MP who represents the Hexham Constituency.

Lord Bird said: “I started the Big Issue in 1991 largely because there was no provision for a whole section of the community. There were 501 homeless organisations, but not one provided the opportunity for the homeless to make their own money.”

Matthew McPherson