I have been very fortunate to spend three days over the last couple of weeks discussing what I am most passionate about - improving social mobility in education and employment. On 7 and 8 March, I joined delegates from a range of sectors at Cumberland Lodge for a fantastic conference to consider the barriers that exist and how we can work together to resolve them. Yesterday, on 17 March, I was delighted to speak at Manchester Law Society's social mobility conference around the free toolkit that we have prepared to assist employers in this area.
The issues surrounding social mobility remain vast and there are still many outstanding questions. Who should be responsible for providing career advice to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds? Does blind recruitment reduce barriers or exacerbate them? How do employers educate staff who have not experienced disadvantage? Can social mobility ever be apolitical?
I will be sharing my thoughts on many of these things over the coming weeks but it is clear that there is no one answer to the solutions. It is therefore important that employers keep talking to each other about social mobility and sharing their ideas about what works. At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we have already hosted a very successful cross-sector roundtable and we will be continuing to facilitate these networks over the coming months.
However, what I know from the last two weeks is that this conversation is gaining momentum. There are many people across the UK who are passionate about improving social mobility and are giving up vast amounts of their time to drive change. Regardless of our own personal experiences, the business case for improving social mobility is strong and we are no longer in a world where these issues can be sidelined.
If you have not yet downloaded a copy of our social mobility toolkit, then I would highly recommend doing so. It is a fantastic starting point for employers who recognise the need to improve social mobility but do not know where to begin.
It has been just over a decade since I started out on my legal journey and I can already see the progress that has been made. Recruiting solely from elite universities is widely viewed as unacceptable and the impact that socio-economic background can have on career prospects has been clearly documented. If employers can work together, then this positive trajectory will continue. If every organisation can play its part in making sure background does not limit the opportunities someone deserves, then we will build back from the pandemic in a way that really is better for everyone.
If you would value a discussion about social mobility in your organisation, have any comments on our social mobility toolkit or would be interested in joining a network of like-minded employers, then please do get in touch with me.