Our Power of Inclusion Breakfast discusses social mobility and building effective networks

We kicked off July with our second in its series of Power of Inclusion Social Mobility Workshops. Hosted by Janus Henderson Investors, over 60 guests gathered to discuss social mobility, diving into the value of formal and informal networks and how to build effective networks within their organisations.

A key element of the 2022-2024 Power of Inclusion programme, which aims to create a City that is inclusive and open to everyone regardless of background, the Social Mobility series invites senior leaders, DEI champions and experts in social mobility came together to share best practice on policies and programmes and collaborate for effective change.

Chaired by Dan Robertson, Director of VERCIDA Consulting and Chair of the Power of Inclusion Senior Leadership Forum, the workshop focused on roundtable discussions exploring the biggest challenge to social mobility and key areas of best practice. Dan welcomed guests, providing an overview of Power of Inclusion and the Change Starts Together framework, which underpins the initiative and provides businesses with a set of five principles to support them to take an intersectional approach to addressing social mobility.

The Lord Mayor, Alderman Nicholas Lyons attended the breakfast and reminded participants of the importance of prioritising social mobility in their organisations in light of the recent study by The Bridge Group and KPMG which found that socio-economic background has the strongest effect on an individual’s career progression, compared to other diversity characteristics.

The first keynote speaker, Charlotte Biddle, Senior Global Benefits Consultant at Aon, shared her personal story and perspective. She also spoke about Aon’s newly set up Social Mobility Business Resource Group, launched last year, which has taken a number of practical steps to address social mobility within the organisation, such as developing the Work Insights programme for young people to gain work experience and a storytelling campaign called ‘This Is My Journey’. Charlotte and other colleagues at Aon have openly shared their socio-economic backgrounds, how they overcame challenges and the advice they would give to anyone who has had similar experiences.

Next, Cat Greenwood-Smith, Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, shared her personal experiences and why inclusion is so important to her. A few years ago, Cat saw the need for a safe space for open dialogue and conversation about social mobility at the firm and set up the Social Mobility Network at Freshfields in June 2020. She shared the network’s various aims and the importance of allyship, collaboration with other networks and getting buy-in at the highest levels of the firm.

Inspired by the keynote speeches which contained a range of practical tips, productive discussions then took place across the room. Recurring themes in the discussions included senior buy-in as the biggest barrier to policy change in an organisation, how best to address competition between Employee Resource Groups, and the need for active allyship.

If you would like to join the conversation at the next workshop in the series, we would encourage you to join the Power of Inclusion Hub here This will give you access to a range of social mobility resources, including the Change Starts Together framework, a guide to developing social mobility storytelling in your organisation, and case studies to help inform and inspire your social mobility strategy. Signing up will also ensure you are the first to hear about the next workshop in the Social Mobility Series which is taking place in the Autumn.

Learn more about Power of Inclusion here

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