The REC recently featured data and advice in their ED&I blog from the Social Mobility Foundation – an organisation that works with and for ambitious young people who face structural barriers in education and work because of their socioeconomic background. The article is a thought-provoking and important subject matter for hiring managers, Talent leaders, HR teams, and also most employers, so we have summarised some of the key points below:

How is ‘social mobility’ defined?

Social mobility is the extent to which someone has the chance to do well in life, and have equality of opportunity, regardless of the socio-economic background of their parents. It also includes factors such as gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, birthplace, or other circumstances beyond a person’s control.

What are the current issues with social mobility, recruitment, and people strategies?

The main issue sits within unconscious bias - recruiters and interviewers may subconsciously reward a candidate’s accent, connections, and social background in the recruitment process. These are often seen as benefits, and can overshadow the achievements of a candidate moving from a lower socioeconomic background.

Young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds unfortunately face even more challenges in recruitment processes. There are obvious benefits in leveling the playing field, and increasing the opportunities for these candidates to contribute to your organisation.

What is the best advice for employers?
  1. Sign up for more information and advice from the Social Mobility Index. This will keep the subject at the front of your mind, and give you access to the very latest advice. It will share the best practice of other employers, and also offer a range of services to you.
  2. Review recruitment practices – especially around CV screening. How many of your hiring managers could be swayed by the schools that candidates attended, their degrees and where they are from? When was the last time you looked at interview feedback and ensured that it focused only on the key assessment areas?
  3. What is the collective voice in your organisation made up of? Is there diversity of gender, ethnicity, and of background? How would your commercial, operational, and people strategies benefit from a more diverse balance?

What are we doing?

We have signed up to the Social Mobility Index and our eyes are open to the benefits of improving this unconscious bias with our clients.

We are seeing progress from employers embracing gender, ethnicity and age diversity, but it feels that social mobility diversity is yet to reach a higher gear.

The key word for us is 'balance'. The best decisions are made when they include a diversity of voices, and when organisations are able to deliver messages and services that relate to the widest group of people possible.

In the past few months, our team has worked with schools in some of the lower socio-economic areas, as well as with one of the top private schools in our region, to help their pupils with career management and interviews. The bar of quality and potential is exactly the same for both groups, but the experiences that it has taken to get there vary immensely, as does the potential for future greatness given certain barriers for some groups. In 20 years from now, the best organisations in our region will have a blend of leaders from each of these groups.

Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Gemma Hutchinson
Jess Lister
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Claire Screeton
Claire Screeton
Euan Begbie
Euan Begbie
Marie Carroll
Marie Carroll
Lucy Miles
Nicola Beach
Leighton Thomas

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