The release of recent statistics in the press has pushed social mobility to the top of many employer’s agendas. Deliotte’s Fair Access to Work study in 2016 showed that students from less advantaged backgrounds earn an average of nearly 10% less than their more advantaged peers 6 months after graduating. By raising awareness of this inequality, we can hope to close this gap and make sure all students and graduates are given a level playing field when it comes to the world of work, regardless of their background.
- What does social mobility mean, and how does it currently look in the graduate market?
Socioeconomic backgrounds are difficult to pinpoint, but are usually characterised by post code lived in at the age of 14, free school meal eligibility, and parent professions. In 2016, only 10.3% of all UCAS applicants were made by those from most disadvantaged backgrounds, compared to 30% of those from the most advantaged. Once students have completed university, there is a pay gap of around 10%. Employers are continuing to hire with the influence of unconscious bias, targeting their recruitment drives at elite universities and filtering out candidates who don’t meet high qualification brackets.
- Who is championing the change in social mobility?
Deloitte, Accenture, O2, Linklaters, KPMG, Barclays, EY, Baker & McKenzie, Grant Thornton, Teach First and the independent Bridge Group have committed to working with the government to create new national common measures which will help to boost social mobility in workplaces across the UK, in both private and public sectors.
- Why should bringing in a diverse workforce matter to me, and how can I tackle it?
There are a multitude of reasons why bringing in a diverse workforce can bring benefits to your business. It firstly widens your talent pool, giving you the chance to recruit potential rather than a tick box of grades and qualifications. Secondly, hiring people from different backgrounds will widen your skill set, bringing in fresh talent and other perspectives. It will also strengthen your employee engagement, opening doors for wider collaboration, development programmes and mentoring schemes.
There are several simpler changes you can make to your business to reduce the barriers for less advantaged candidates joining your organisation.
- Banning unpaid internships will stop only graduates from privileged backgrounds gaining valuable work experience, opening the opportunity up to all candidates.
- Look past grades and qualifications when filtering through your applications. Shift your focus towards their experiences and progression to understand where you can find potential.
- Reimbursing interview travel costs, or hire locally. Less privileged candidates may be unable to attend interviews too far from their home due to high travel costs. Offering a reimbursement or targeting your recruitment drive locally can help to combat this barrier.
We are a long way away from abolishing all the barriers for graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds when entering the world of work. There are a lot of small steps many organisations can take to becoming a much more diverse and inclusive team, bringing with it a multitude of benefits to your company culture and collaboration. For more information on how you can reach out to students from all walks of life, simply get in touch.