Improving social mobility will take real collaboration across businesses

Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer at PwC

It’s an uncomfortable truth that where someone is born, where they grow up and what their parents do for a living still plays a large role in determining their future. For too long this status quo was largely unchallenged but fortunately, this is changing. Many businesses across the country are now recognising the importance and the benefits of making sure that they are truly open to all.

Getting this right isn’t just important for businesses in reaching the best talent, it is vital for society as a whole, as it will help us to be inclusive as possible and to address people’s concerns about a sense of rising inequality.

As the largest graduate employer in the UK, we recognise that we have a real responsibility to get this right. We’ve looked at our business and determined where we can make tangible changes that will positively impact people’s lives. This includes removing UCAS scores as entry criteria for the majority of our graduate roles, targeting our school visits in the government’s social mobility cold spots, becoming a cornerstone employer in the Government’s Bradford Opportunity Area and creating new and more inclusive routes into our profession.

While we have seen some positive progress from the changes we have made, we recognise that social mobility is a problem that one organisation can’t solve on its own. Progress will be slow if businesses work in silos and target their action in an unco-ordinated way. Real, meaningful collaboration is key. This should be one of those rare issues where businesses leave their traditional rivalries to one side and truly work together for the greater good.

That’s why we’re so pleased to be the headline sponsor of the first ever UK Social Mobility Awards, run by the social mobility charity Making the Leap. The awards will recognise the actions organisations are taking to advance social mobility across areas such as recruitment, progression and community, and will celebrate the individuals who are really helping to drive this important agenda. The winners will be announced on 12th October.

Businesses are often viewed as one of the causes of inequality, but there are also many great examples of innovation that are giving people opportunities they wouldn’t have had before. It’s important that we recognise and celebrate these examples, so that others are encouraged to follow.

Having grown up in East London and being one of only two children in my year of 400 to attend university, I know first hand the difference that business can play in raising aspirations and awareness, and the positive impact this can have on someone’s life.

Business can, and should, be a force for good. It is only by sharing and learning from each other that we can take a bigger stride towards solving this important problem and making sure that every person in the country has a fair chance to succeed, regardless of their background.

You can find out more about the UK Social Mobility Awards and the winners here.