Social mobility in the UK took an important step forward with the release of a new report showing how businesses large and small can break down the inequality of opportunity facing young people.
The Big Issue co-founder Lord John Bird hosted the launch of the report, entitled “Financial Services and Social Mobility: Powering Up The Talent Chain” in a packed Committee Room Two at the House of Lords. Speakers included Bird himself, plus Justine Greening MP – a key architect of the Social Mobility Pledge, in which businesses sign up to become accredited employers who commit to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds.
“A year ago tomorrow we launched the Social Mobility Pledge aimed at getting more companies to give more opportunities to more young people,” said Greening. “I wanted companies to open up the doors.”
The new report highlights the work of financial services giant Standard Life Aberdeen, which was one of the first companies to sign the pledge.
The investment company have been at the forefront of evolving recruitment and training practice in a bid to expand the talent pool – acknowledging that while talent may be spread evenly, opportunity is not while also opening doors to young people who may not have achieved top grades at school and providing on the job training.
In his speech, Bird challenged more businesses to get on board. “We are not going to get anywhere if we have to rely on the government, charities, or social entrepreneurs like me. We are not going to get anywhere unless we bring in big business,” he said.