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The sixth and final seminar of the Power of Inclusion 2020 series, sponsored by Capgemini, focused on the topic of ‘Measuring our efforts: what gets measured gets done’. It explored the importance of measuring data as we know that what gets valued gets measured and what gets measured gets done. Data measurement is vital to ensuring and developing social mobility within business.

We heard from expert practitioners and business specialists to help us understand the challenges and benefits of data measurement, and shared practical and tangible insights on measurable activities to increase social mobility within organisations.

Dan Robertson, chair of VERCIDA Consullting and the Power of Inclusion Senior Leadership Forum introduced the session, making people aware of the importance of data and measurement when it comes to progressing the social mobility agenda.

Good data can provide us with the opportunities to make change, and provide the evidence we need to do so, said the Lord Mayor William Russell. Recognising that it can be difficult to capture data on social mobility, he stressed that it’s key to focus not just on recruitment, but progression through the business, and both quantitative and qualitative data is useful here.

Principles and practical advice are both important, and measuring data brings numerous benefits to the organisation. That was the message from Nik Miller, The Bridge Group. The areas he focused on were why we should collect data, what we should collect, how we collect it, encouraging people to feel comfortable sharing, and then what we should do as a result, to make sure that it is meaningful and powerful. The idea that by disclosing information there is the opportunity to bring about real change is what encourages people to share their information – sharing data builds trust, transparency, and change.

What was significant in the data he shared was how seniority is highly correlated with education in private schools, and certain sectors are much more likely to be heavily populated by people from higher middle classes. But there is a clear business case for diversity. Certain diversity characteristics can compound to create greater inequalities, so it is important we look at intersectionality as well, which will be a key focus of the 2021 Power of Inclusion series. Nik’s final remark was powerful and potent, stating that “what we need to do is focus on the stories of people behind the numbers.”

Sarah Gregory, Diversity and Inclusion Partner at Baker McKenzie, spoke about the why, what and how of collecting data and embedding it into the lifecycle of recruitment and retention. Recognising that sometimes the data we collect and what it reveals can make us uncomfortable, she encouraged organisations to be sensitive and transparent with both the driver and reasons behind the collection of data. She also stressed how valuable storytelling is, especially from senior partners, as it encourages other people to engage and become allies in progressing the social mobility agenda. It’s key that organisations ask questions about what the barriers to progression are – which might include things such as meals out for client entertainment, as well as questions about education. Gender and ethnicity data is well embedded at Baker McKenzie, but progression is being made around other characteristics, including social background.

Sally Caughey leads Digital Inclusion at CapgeminiUK. Despite having a lot of initiatives in place to help increase diversity, but they recognise that there are still many barriers to both entry and progression. They work with Code Your Future, who focus on helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds become web developers. They have had huge successes, with hundreds of students come through the programme, building their future careers. It works for the business, bringing new dimensions and diversity. Elamin Fadlalla, a refugee from Sudan, spoke about his experience of the education and community that Code Your Future provided. It changed his life.

We then had a personal perspective on the impact of measuring data from Emily Hodgson, who is Head of Employer Relations and Business Development at the Social Mobility Foundation. Outreach, recruitment, advocacy, and data collection are all things that they focus on to help monitor progress. They have noticed a steady increase in organisations collecting social mobility data.

Social background and class background have an effect on pay and progression long after you enter a profession. We need to think about what we mean by talent, said Nik Miller. It shouldn’t matter whether you play golf, or whether you can afford dinner in the poshest restaurants.

Many of the panel spoke about culture. Microaggressions rather than overt discriminations can erode confidence and are often perpetrated by peers. Soft elements can make a big difference to helping people feel comfortable and the long term career trajectory for many, and thus mentoring circles and networks are very important to support social mobility progression. 

The 2021 Power of Inclusion series will continue to focus on social mobility, and focus on what organisations can do to help progress the social mobility agenda and support individuals in their career in diverse and inclusive workspaces. For more details head here.

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