A person’s background should never determine what they go on to achieve in life. However, the reality is that it does.
It was only a few months ago that research published by the Social Mobility Commission found that whilst nearly half of all UK jobs could be classified as professional, you are still 60% more likely to get a professional job if you come from a privileged background, and those from working-class backgrounds earn an average of £6,000 less than their more privileged counterparts. Accountancy firm PwC has recently been one of the first employers to publish its socio-economic pay gap – and the figure of 12.1% is comparable to the gender and ethnicity pay gaps in many organisations.
To me, these statistics come as no surprise. Deciding what and where to study at college or university can be difficult for someone who has no parental experience of higher education. Obtaining the grades to attend university or secure a certain job can be difficult for someone who attends an underperforming school or does not have access to their own laptop. Navigating a vast range of career options can be difficult for someone who does not have a readymade network of contacts or cannot be geographically flexible. Succeeding in a job interview and making a good impression can be difficult for someone who has no prior understanding of an office environment. The hurdles go on.
As we recover from the effects of the pandemic, the fight against socio-economic inequality is more important than ever. Whilst most children have avoided the physical health impact of covid-19, the disruption they have faced to their education has had a significant effect on their learning and development. It has been reported that 200,000 year six children now face the reality of starting secondary school with low literacy levels, and disadvantaged pupils in England are overall as much as seven months behind their more privileged peers. If these students do not catch up before they reach adulthood, this is likely to severely restrict their prospects in the working world.
It is only by acknowledging that people come from very different starting points and may not have had access to the same opportunities, that we can work towards ensuring true equality. At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we want to bring that conversation to the forefront of organisational strategy. That is why, on Tuesday 23 November, we will be joined by Jess Phillips MP, Darren Burns (National Recruitment Manager at Timpson) and Stephanie Burras (CEO at the Ahead Partnership), to discuss the social mobility challenge and how employers can encourage best practice. At this event, we will be launching our social mobility toolkit containing practical resources for employers who want to implement positive measures to open up their workforce. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Central England Co-operative and Boston Borough Council, this will be available to download for free.
If you’re an employer, and you want to be inspired, encouraged and informed about improving social mobility in your organisation, then please do come along and join in the discussion by registering for the event via the below link.