Lots of firms claim to care about social mobility – but how many really do?

At Graduate Fog, we hear from numerous big companies who claim they’re committed to giving young people from all backgrounds the chance to work at their organisation – but whose efforts fall short of the mark.

For example, the low-paid internship which requires a year of (probably unpaid) experience to apply. Or the minimum wage ‘graduate’ job being recruited through a series of challenges dreamed up by the PR department, not their HR colleagues. (Please note: Graduates working full-time to pay their bills don’t have spare days to spend filming video diaries or completing other ‘creative’ tasks that you think sound ‘fun’).

But some firms really are leading the way on this issue – and Graduate Fog is chuffed to announce that our very own corporate sponsor Grant Thornton has just been recognised as a “social mobility champion” by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The top accountancy firm began sponsoring Graduate Fog in September 2015 having been one of the first big companies to back the campaign for fair internships. Since signing up with us, they have continued to advise Graduate Fog’s readers on how to get a job at Grant Thornton, and answer your toughest questions about job hunting.

The winners – including Grant Thornton and 10 other firms – were praised for “going beyond” many of their rivals and making “social mobility a core part of their corporate strategy.” (In other words, not just paying lip service to the issue).

Evening Standard

GOOD NEWS FOR GRADS: The Evening Standard announces Grant Thornton is to sponsor Graduate Fog

To be selected, employers had to meet a set of criteria developed by BIS and the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission including: demonstrating how they are supporting their local communities and schools, providing opportunities for all young people to get a foot on the jobs ladder, and recruiting openly and fairly. Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

“The Social Mobility Champions have risen to the challenge set by government and shown genuine commitment to bring about positive change.

“They have gone beyond just volunteering in schools or changing the way they advertise jobs; they have made social mobility a core part of their corporate strategy. I hope this will inspire other businesses to follow suit.”

Commenting on the award, Sacha Romanovitch, Grant Thornton’s CEO, said:

“We know that creating a diverse workforce is central to building a vibrant economy in which people and businesses can thrive. This award is a fantastic celebration of all those recognised and shows how by working together to share ideas and resources we can make an even bigger impact.

“Tackling this agenda is important not only for our firm, but for the future of the UK economy. Recent research from CEBR shows that if we used apprenticeships and social mobility measures to fill all vacancies that arise due to skills shortages, by 2025 the extra output in the economy would be £8.5 billion a year.”

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Grant Thornton's CEO gives our partnership her personal backing on Twitter

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Grant Thornton CEO Sacha Romanovich tweets her personal backing for our partnership

Sacha Romanovich is Chair of the Patron Group for Access Accountancy, the profession-wide initiative, of which Grant Thornton is also a founding signatory, aimed at improving access to the accountancy profession.

Access Accountancy has 28 employer and professional body signatories. With all employer signatories working together the initiative has delivered over 500 placements to students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the first year.

The ten firms listed alongside Grant Thornton as social mobility champions were Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, EY, Standard Life, Telefonica (the parent company of O2), plus law firms Linklaters and Baker & McKenzie, housebuilders Aspire Group, and social care firm Mears Group.

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