'Help Britain smash the class ceiling' - Justine Greening urges businesses in Social Mobility Pledge
Businesses must create ‘coalition of the willing’ to drive social mobility, says the Former Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP.
Former Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP yesterday launched the Social Mobility Pledge in Parliament during a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Social Mobility and the Economy’.
KPMG has signed up to the Pledge, further demonstrating the firm’s commitment to improving social mobility throughout the UK.
The Pledge commits businesses to access and progress talent from all backgrounds and to promote a level playing field for all. It asks employers to take three steps to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances: Partnering directly with schools or colleges and/or mentoring people, providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities, and adopting open employee recruitment practices.
Other businesses to have signed up include BT, Aviva, Adidas, ITV, and Clifford Chance. It is also supported by the CBI and the Federation of Small Business, both of whom are encouraging their members to back the Pledge.
The Westminster Hall debate featured MPs from across the political spectrum, who expressed support for the role business plays in ensuring greater social mobility, be it through providing apprenticeships and work experience opportunities or school outreach and collaboration with the education sector.
Ms Greening said: “I think that business is part of the solution on developing potential and giving opportunity, not part of the problem, which is why I’m asking businesses, large and small, to commit to a universal Social Mobility Pledge.”
She also emphasised that this is a cross-party issue and that when Parliament speaks with one voice, business listens.
KPMG has played a leading role on social mobility for nearly a decade. It came second in the inaugural Social Mobility Index, and was awarded ‘Leadership of the Year’ at last year’s Social Mobility Awards. In 2016, it became the first firm in the UK to publish comprehensive data analysing the socio-economic profile of its workforce, and has run the ‘Discovery’ work experience programme since 2013, which is dedicated to supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It also runs an extensive education outreach programme across the UK, working with 30 primary schools and over 100 secondary schools and colleges nationally. At KPMG, they believe that increasing the diversity of its workforce brings in untapped natural talent, and is vital to the long term sustainability of the firm.
Deputy Chair of KPMG in the UK, Melanie Richards sees social mobility as the critical issue of our time. She comments: “Signing this Pledge reinforces our strong commitment to boosting social mobility across the UK.
“One of the key challenges facing business today is talent. With the UK’s skills gap threatening to undermine our country’s future success, the three pillars of the Social Mobility Pledge are essential for businesses to attract, engage, and develop talented individuals.
“In this country, the circumstances into which you are born still have a decisive influence on the opportunities available to you in life. This cannot continue and businesses can, and should, be part of the solution. We must rise up to the challenge, collaborating with parliamentarians, government, wider business and our communities to ensure that everyone reaches their full potential.”