Press release

UK employers set a new benchmark for social mobility

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced 12 Social Mobility Business Compact 'Champions'.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


12 of the UK’s most high-profile companies have today been recognised by the government for leading the charge in ensuring young people have a better chance of getting on the jobs ladder.

The 12 companies, which are made up of a broad range of industries and cover the breadth of the UK, have been nominated as Social Mobility Business Compact ‘Champions’ and are pledging to take the message out to other businesses across the country.

These companies are:

  • Accenture
  • Aspire Group
  • Baker & McKenzie LLP
  • The Co-operative Food
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Grant Thornton UK LLP
  • Linklaters
  • Mears Group
  • Standard Life
  • Telefónica O2

The Champions are driving a new benchmark for social mobility by committing to meet a set of strict criteria over the next 12 months, building on their existing work, including:

  • developing relationships with schools and young people
  • targeting efforts on institutions with above average levels of disadvantage
  • widening the geographical spread of opportunities
  • offering well-structured non-graduate entry-routes and driving forward recruitment practices that eliminate barriers to social mobility

The Champions are signatories of the Social Mobility Business Compact, which was set up by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011, to encourage employers to offer young people fair and open access to employment opportunities. Since the launch of the Compact, 10 government departments have also committed to adhering to the criteria for the next year.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is at the Skills Show, the nation’s largest skills and careers event, at the NEC in Birmingham today, to launch the Social Mobility Business Compact Champion Tier. He said:

I believe that in a fair society, what counts towards your success should be the talent you have and how hard you work, not who your parents are or where you come from. I’m delighted that the Champions we have recognised today appreciate the economic value of recruiting people from all walks of life.

Businesses know they need to find the best talent in order to succeed. This means searching beyond the usual recruitment methods and hiring young people with great potential, whatever their background. It’s great to see leaders in industry backing this approach. However many businesses are still missing out, and more companies need to follow in the footsteps of the Champions we have announced today if we are to achieve our aim of a stronger economy and fairer society.

Sarah Gregory, Inclusion & Diversity Partner at Baker & McKenzie said:

Tackling social mobility underpins our vision to be a truly inclusive organisation and is key to our work in ensuring the legal profession becomes more accessible. As one of the few firms with a partner dedicated entirely to Inclusion & Diversity, we have been committed to improving access and achieving greater social mobility for a number of years. It is a privilege to have been recognised as a Champion.

The Compact acted as a call to action and has played a key part in bringing social mobility to the forefront of our commercial objectives; since signing up to the Compact we have taken tangible steps to improve access to our firm and to the profession, which include a range of work experience and mentoring opportunities for students and outreach volunteering programmes for our people. We encourage all UK companies to do the same.

More than 170 companies have signed up to the Social Mobility Business Compact, from sectors including legal, retail, finance and energy. The Compact is already delivering real change – over half (56%) of employers who are signatories have increased contact with disadvantaged schools since joining. Nearly all (92%) of the participating employers think fair and open recruitment will expose their company to a broader range of talent, with 82% agreeing that fair and open recruitment creates a workforce with a wider range of people that better reflects their client base.

The Social Mobility Business Compact

The Business Compact asks employers to open their doors to people from all walks of life, regardless of their background. It was announced in 2011 as part of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Social Mobility Strategy to promote fairness and equal opportunities for all.

The aim of the Compact is to encourage behavioural change in organisations, to ensure jobs are open to everyone. The government believes no one should be prevented from fulfilling their potential because of where they were born, the school they go to, or the jobs their parents do – skills and talents should not be wasted just because someone’s personal circumstances mean they can not get a foot on the ladder.

Business Compact commitments

The Compact calls employers to commit to:

1) Supporting communities and local schools to raise aspirations. Eg:

  • participate in mentoring schemes for young people, allow staff time off and reward them for getting involved and enable schools and employers to work together
  • encourage staff at least once a year to talk about their careers as part of a programme to raise aspiration and build knowledge about the world of work

2) Improving skills and create jobs by providing opportunities for all young people to get a foot on the ladder. Eg:

  • where work experience opportunities are offered, advertise in local schools rather than filling them through informal networks
  • where internships are offered, advertise them openly and transparently, pay interns the minimum wage where they are legally entitled to it and provide financial support to ensure fair access (ensuring individuals from less well-off backgrounds are not excluded from opportunities, for example, providing lunch or travel expenses or accommodation as appropriate)

3) Improve quality of life and wellbeing by recruiting openly and fairly, ensuring non-discrimination. Eg:

  • ensure that recruitment processes do not allow people to be inadvertently screened out because they went to the wrong school or come from a different ethnic group. This could include increased use of name-blank and school-blank applications where appropriate.

Read a full list of the Business Compact signatories

Download the Champion tier criteria

Published 13 November 2014