On Thursday 4 June over 100 people gathered online to explore the issue and ask the question ‘An introduction to social mobility: What is it and why is it important?’ in the first of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s Power of Inclusion series, which this year focuses on social mobility.
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman William Russell explained why The Lord Mayor’s Appeal Power of Inclusion series is focusing on social mobility this year. It’s aligned to the Appeal’s broader strategy, and ‘is about creating a city and society that is open and inclusive for everyone, making A Better City For All.’
The session was chaired by Sarah Atkinson from the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity which aims to make a practical improvement in social mobility for young people. They run an outreach programme, investment ambassadors and Think investments programmes, and industry work experience programmes. As well as working with young people they also support businesses through the Social Mobility Employers Index, an annual benchmarking report for employers to assess their efforts to improve social mobility and share insights into good practice across different sectors.
The CFO of session sponsor Allianz Global Investors Markus Kobler shared his perspective and personal story, as well as spoke on AllianzGI's commitment to addressing social mobility. He shared some sobering statistics. You are 80% less likely to make into a professional job if you are from a working class background and those from a working class background earn on average 24% less.
'The behavioural codes that influence workplaces are arbitrary and don't reflect ability and intelligence' said Dr Sam Friedman, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics. He also stated how it’s not just about access at the beginning, but improving chance – ‘it’s not just about getting in but getting on’ and the burden of change really should be on the organisation, rather than the individual. A high level of social mobility is generally considered one of the strongest indictors of a healthy, fair and meritocratic society; a society where no individual is prevented from fulfilling his or her potential.
Dr Joanna Abeyie MBE, Founder and CEO, Blue Moon spoke about some of the practical considerations that need to be taken into account, from being unable to afford team lunches, to not having the right clothing, and how tenacity and ambition have been her drivers to getting on.
Research by Chris Cummings, Chief Executive, The Investment Association has found that it makes good sense for business to have a socially diverse and inclusive workplace, something that Hollie Crompton, Social Mobility Lead, PwC echoed. They set up a Social Mobility Taskforce in 2017, and report every year. As she said ‘people want to work with and for businesses with purpose’ and social mobility matters in this case. They have also made it easy for role models to speak up, and encourage peer support. Their aim lead by example as a social mobility employer and to be recognised as an inclusive organisation where people from all backgrounds are able to work, develop and succeed.
The Power of Inclusion forum and workshop series breaks down barriers to inclusion by empowering organisations to create inclusive workplace cultures. By sharing learning and best practice to tackle the challenges of diverse representation, it is making a huge impact on the professional culture of the City, creating fully inclusive workplaces and equal opportunities for all.
Due to social distancing measures we are taking our first events of 2020 online. As well as keeping our speakers and attendees safe, this offers the opportunity for those who may ordinarily be unable to attend for any reason a more flexible and inclusive way of taking part. We hope to extend our reach through online events and enable more people from your business and other regional areas to attend.
The next events are ‘Recruitment: Why your next hire may not have the best CV’ on Tuesday 30 June and ‘Culture and belonging: Creating a space to be oneself’ on Wednesday 15 July.