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Hot topic: HR and social mobility, part two

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In the second part of this Hot Topic Susie Perrett, education director at Business in the Community talks about how responsible employers can address social imbalance.

The latest report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission Elitist Britain? is uncomfortable reading.

From the Cabinet to the national cricket team, it painted a picture in which our top institutions are still dominated by individuals from a narrow spectrum of backgrounds. Sadly, it seems that progression in modern Britain is still very much determined by background.

Responsible employers have a practical role to play in addressing this imbalance and creating a fairer society that truly offers equal opportunity.

Most immediately they can look at their recruitment policies and procedures, to ensure that they are not unconsciously creating barriers or favouring individuals from particular backgrounds. Of course it would be naive to expect employers not to seek candidates with the best possible qualifications. However, steps can be taken to make it fairer.

For example, ensuring that recruitment panels are diverse, reviewing job specs to remove requirements that inadvertently exclude young talent from disadvantaged backgrounds and widening the type of qualifications considered.

I also believe that employers should be taking action far earlier than at the point of recruitment. By getting involved in schools, businesses have a powerful opportunity to raise aspirations. Research suggests that just four visits from an employer while in secondary school makes a young person five times less likely to be unemployed.

By engaging with schools and working directly with young people employers can both give a realistic understanding of the world of work and bring to life the opportunity it offers to lift yourself out of poverty.

Susie Perrett is education director at Business in the Community

Click here to read the first part of the Hot Topic.