Social mobility is about more than doing the right thing; it now plays an important role in attracting new talent.
Society should encourage everyone who is talented and hard-working to excel – yet there are still barriers that stop people from different socio-economic backgrounds accessing top jobs.
A report by The Sutton Trust suggests that lack of social mobility may be an increasing problem. Only 40% of respondents believe that people in the UK have equal opportunities to get on – a significant decrease from 53% in 2008.
With the UK predicted to face a talent deficit of three million workers by 2030 according to Korn Ferry, businesses should be actively scouting for talent from a wider economic, cultural or geographic spectrum. This includes women and people from different ethnic groups.
Although workplace diversity and social mobility is top of the agenda for today’s businesses, only one in four senior leadership roles are filled by women – and only one in ten by ethnic minorities. And while the gender pay gap is closing, the average female employee still earns 8.6% less than the average man according to the ONS.
But I also believe it’s time for diversity to go beyond labels such as gender and race; after all, the value your people bring to the business also comes from their personal experiences.
People from different backgrounds can bring fresh perspectives to a business. Individual experiences, in turn, can lead to more innovative solutions – and can help businesses connect with new audiences.
By thinking about workplace diversity and social mobility when recruiting, companies can assess people’s strengths and successfully work around their needs. In return for low-cost investments like flexible hours or additional training, you could gain an employee who fuels your next breakthrough or innovation.
A number of SMEs I’ve worked with in the past still believed that social mobility programmes were only relevant to big corporations or institutions with deep pockets; it’s time for every company, no matter their size, to view inclusion and diversity as a competitive advantage instead of an optional extra.
8 easy steps to promote social mobility
- Consider whether every position requires academic qualifications.
- Don’t restrict entry-level roles to graduates.
- Use opportunities such as apprenticeships to create a level playing field.
- Create work experience partnerships with local schools to empower applicants.
- Give constructive feedback to candidates to boost their confidence.
- Emphasise the applicant, not the reputation of their university.
- Ensure management communicates a positive attitude on social mobility.
- Foster mentorship in your company structure to help create a sounding board for challenges.
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