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How employers can get involved with social mobility

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We believe social mobility must be driven by equitable access to good work; at the very least, this means work that is fairly rewarded and gives people the means to securely make a living.

HR leaders and employers across all sectors therefore have a vital role to play to make social mobility a reality. But how can they do this?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more awareness and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) among UK employers.


HR and social mobility:

What are the D&I trends in 2022?

Social mobility rises up the business agenda

Employers pledge support for action on social mobility

State of the Nation report: Employers must do more on social mobility

Building decent work for ethnic minorities


The good news is that organisations can build on their existing DEI work to take meaningful action on social mobility as well. Our recent research on social mobility best practice indicates there are three key stages to get started on this journey.

Understand

Learn about what works from those leading the way on social mobility, from previous winners of the UK Social Mobility Awards to organisations on the Social Mobility Employer Index.

Create a dialogue with your staff from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds to understand their experiences, views and priorities for change. If you don’t already have one, this is a great time to establish a staff social mobility network.

Strategise

Get buy-in from senior leaders, including at least one senior leader to act as a social mobility champion.

Examine your organisation’s recruitment and progression processes to examine potential barriers to those from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

Once you have a good understanding of employee priorities and processes that need addressing, develop a social mobility strategy.

To keep your strategy focused and achievable, identify two or three areas where you can make a real difference. Work with colleagues leading other strands of DEI work to develop an intersectional approach to your social mobility strategy.

Go

A first key action is to collect socio-economic backgrounds data; use the Social Mobility Commission’s Employer Toolkit to inform your SEB data collection and analysis.

Beyond the data, pay attention to socio-economic inclusion as well as diversity from the start. This involves celebrating social mobility stories and ensuring that social mobility leaders are supported and valued.

Treat diversity and inclusion work as part of – not ‘above and beyond’ – employees’ workloads. Where possible, create dedicated roles for DEI and social mobility, to drive this work forward.

By Padmini Iyer is head of research and advocacy at Making The Leap