Grant Thornton tops Government’s new social mobility index

A reveller at Oxford University. Employers still canvas Oxbridge universities for candidates more than any other institutionsREX/Shutterstock
A reveller at Oxford University. Employers still canvas Oxbridge universities for candidates more than any other institutions
REX/Shutterstock

The Government has published its first ever list of the top 50 employers to have promoted social mobility at work.

Accounting firm Grant Thornton tops the list, followed by consulting firm KPMG and construction company Skanska.

The index is a joint initiative between the Social Mobility Foundation and the Social Mobility Commission, supported by the City of London Corporation.

Employers are ranked according to the actions they are taking to attract and progress talent from all backgrounds.

The Government analysed data from nearly 100 employers across 17 sectors, who submitted entries about their practices and procedures in areas such as working with young people, recruitment, selection and progression.

A panel of experts came up with the final rankings and every employer involved received a report with recommendations on how they can improve.

In compiling the index, researchers found that just under one-fifth (17%) of the employers who submitted entries had set social mobility targets as part of their overall business strategy.

Four in 10 asked applicants about the type of school they attended, a quarter asked whether candidates received free school meals, and 39% asked if employees were the first in the family to go to university.

Almost three-quarters offered apprenticeships, but most of these programmes are at the lower end of the qualifications scale (levels 2 and 4), despite a push for higher quality apprenticeships.

The Government also found that, while 96% of firms claimed to accept degrees from any university, 61% of all successful applicants to those companies attended one of the country’s 24 most selective universities.

This is compounded by the fact that employers visited the top 11 UK universities more than all the other UK universities combined. This means they are visiting institutions with the lowest percentage of state school students in the country.

Researchers also discovered that Oxford and Cambridge universities were the most visited of all institutions, visited more than 118 other institutions combined.

David Johnston, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said there was still progress to be made.

He said: “All the top 50 firms in the Social Mobility Employer Index should be applauded for the progress they are making towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get in and get on – regardless of their background.”

“While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised.”

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, added: “Improving the UK’s dismal social mobility record requires new action by employers and not just governments.

“Employers that have employees at all levels from a rich variety of social backgrounds are better placed to meet the demands and uncertainties of today’s world. Social mobility is good for employers. And employers can make a major contribution to creating a more mobile society.”

The top 10 firms named in the index are as follows:

1. Grant Thornton UK

2. KPMG UK

3. Skanska UK

4. Standard Life

5. Deloitte UK

6. JP Morgan

7. PwC

8. Berwin Leighton Paisner

9. WM Morrisons Supermarkets

10. Enterprise Rent-A-Car

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