· Features

Hot topic: Improving social mobility, part two

Much was said before the general election around improving social mobility, by both the Conservatives and Labour

The subject has been steadily rising up the HR and D&I agendas. So how can organisations play their bit in breaking the class glass ceiling once and for all?

Katie Schmuecker, head of policy at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says:

“For social mobility to be real everyone must have the chance to get on. Yet three out of four low-paid workers fail to escape low pay in a 10-year period, and a worker with low qualifications is four times less likely to receive training from their employer than a more highly qualified colleague.

"With some 3.7 million working households experiencing poverty, spreading prosperity and opportunity are likely to remain political concerns.

"Many good firms already recognise that employees worrying about making ends meet are less engaged at work, and improved employee wellbeing is associated with improved work performance.

"There are many practical actions firms can take. These include: ensuring low-paid employees can access training and development opportunities; managers having the skills to develop staff and holding regular conversations about progression opportunities; fringe benefit packages calibrated to the needs of low income workers; and becoming an accredited living wage employer.”

Raphael Mokades, managing director at Rare (a diversity technology company), says:

“Organisations wishing to break the ‘class glass ceiling’ need to do three things: ensure they have structured routes to the top, use effective outreach to get the right people into their pipeline, and develop the candidates they find through outreach activities.

"Apprentice and graduate programmes with clear milestones and benchmarks on the way to the top are attractive to people from lower socioeconomic groups. Invariably, the organisations and professions that have these do best on diversity, whereas the ones where progression is more dependent on personal networks do worse.

"Using contextual data to identify the right candidates means organisations get able, disadvantaged people into their programmes. Building longitudinal development programmes to give these candidates a platform to develop fills the pipelines with outstanding, gritty, able people who have what it takes to get to the top.”

Read the first part of this Hot Topic