Social mobility for us is about making a more equitable society where everyone has the same chance to succeed, and feels respected and included, irrespective of social background.

This is reflected in our social mobility guiding principle of “Getting in, Getting on, Belonging”, which is in line with our Grant Thornton motto of “doing what’s right ahead of what’s easy”.

Why social mobility inclusion is important?

An equitable society where everyone, no matter their background, can fully participate and prosper equally is not just morally important but also necessary for society, businesses, and all of us as individuals.

The benefits of a more equitable society are far-reaching: reduced poverty, improved health, longer lives, reduction in violence, improved education, gains in the economy, and far more.

But how is social mobility related to an equitable society? Ridged social levels and inequality go hand in hand; when social mobility increases, inequality falls. So, for us as individuals, as a business, and as members of our communities, it is very important to seek a present and a future where your chance to succeed in life and at work is based on your personal effort and results, and not background.

What have we done so far and what is our strategy going forward?

Our guiding principle for social mobility of "Getting in, Getting on, Belonging" contains the three elements we recognise as leading to inclusion.

This means:

  • providing equitable access to resources and opportunities for those who might be excluded otherwise
  • ensuring our colleagues have an equal opportunity for development and progression no matter their background
  • ensuring our colleagues feel fully valued and part of the Grant Thornton community.

Our current long-term strategy has six distinct areas: advocacy, attraction, recruitment, progression, community, and education & explanation. These goals are underpinned by internal and external visible leadership championing and advocating for social mobility initiatives.

Getting in: Advocacy, Attraction and Recruitment

Our recruitment team has worked to understand the impact of, and update, our own recruitment systems, and structures so everyone can access the opportunity of working with Grant Thornton. This has included:

Removing grade requirements for recruitment throughout the recruitment process applicants' grades are hidden from assessors, interviewers, etc. The school or university attended are also hidden.

Use of multiple stage assessments to assess an individual's potential rather than their past experiences, recognising that not everyone will have the opportunity or means to take part in work experience and other activities.

Regular data collection, monitoring and updating of the stages in our recruitment process to ensure no specific group is underperforming.

Offering work experience as part of the Access Accountancy scheme from the ICAEW, which is focused on those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who wouldn't normally get such experience at a professional firm.

The recruitment team's fantastic work was recognised at the 2022 SOMO Awards, with them winning Recruitment Programme of the Year.

Our plan going forward is to continue this work, with a focus on:

  • increasing the number of students reached each year through Access Accountancy
  • increasing the number of students from economic "Cold Spots" and universities across the country who apply and join Grant Thornton
  • boosting staff volunteering on social mobility related volunteering.

Getting on: Progression, Advocacy, and Education & Explanation

We seek to promote inclusion internally by ensuring everyone can progress at the same rate and to the same place, regardless of their background in the following ways:

Promoting specific training and information materials to People Managers and the Grant Thornton Inclusion Allies on the experiences of those from LSEB and the bias and barriers they can experience, along with how we can change our workplace and team cultures to fully embrace and include everyone.

Internal data analysis has been undertaken to understand how socio-economic background and protected characteristics for specific internal groups impact whether a colleague stays with Grant Thornton and their career progression.

Data analysis has allowed us to offer development and career support to specific colleagues.

This work, coupled with our work to support people "Getting In" to Grant Thornton and the wider accountancy profession, led to us receiving the 2022 SOMO Award for Organisation of the Year, and maintaining a top 5 ranking at #3 in the 2023 SME Index.

However, we realise there is far more work to do so our strategy going forward is to build on this work, with a focus on:

  • evolving our internal mentoring and coaching offering, through research to understand the needs of colleagues from Lower Socio-economic Backgrounds (LSEB)
  • upskilling people managers in relation to social mobility topics so they can better support colleagues and teams personally and professionally
  • continuing to use data analysis to understand potential barriers to progression for colleagues from LSEBs.

Belonging: Progression, Community and Education & Explanation

We believe that belonging is a feeling of being a full and valued member of our Grant Thornton community. We aim to instil this feeling in our LSEB colleagues by building a community that recognises, respects, and supports everyone, encouraging everyone to bring their whole selves to work. Building a sense of community has included:

Educating our colleagues about what social mobility means in the workplace and what they can do to support themselves and others through presentations and discussions at department and team meetings.

Encouraging and sharing stories among colleagues via internal articles, our community network, and other avenues.

Running regular "tea breaks" for people to come together and talk. Each tea break has a topic related to social mobility, whether that is about economic cold spots, accent bias, budgeting, or media like TV, film, or poems about social mobility.

Our strategy promotes the continuation of this work, with a focus on:

  • increasing education and understanding through more presentations and learning sections to colleagues via department and team meetings
  • a suite of bitesize videos and factsheets on key social mobility topics and linked to our tea breaks and community network discussions
  • increasing the visibility of leadership by Grant Thornton and our colleagues, internally and externally, to amplify messages on the importance of social mobility and promote discussion of the innovative ways we can change our workplaces and cultures to be inclusive and create a sense of belonging for all.

Social mobility stories

Unconscious bias: Emma's story

I've always been the kind of person who doesn't conform to 'normal' standards when it comes to how I choose to present myself aesthetically.

Read more Unconscious bias: Emma's story

Unconscious bias: Richard's story

I live with my husband Andrew. We split our time between London and Lincolnshire and live with our nine-year-old whippet called Cora.

Read more Unconscious bias: Richard's story

Unconscious bias: Daniel's story

I grew up on a council estate in Northampton and I work in the Credit Control team at Grant Thornton.

Read more Unconscious bias: Daniel's story

Grant Thornton recognised as top employer for social mobility

We have ranked as a top employer in the Social Mobility Employer’s Index 2023.

Read more Grant Thornton recognised as top employer for social mobility

Exploring workplace classism

Watch our 2023 webinar, in partnership with the SMF, exploring workplace classism

Read more Exploring workplace classism

Social mobility: I'm proud of my background

Find out why social mobility is important to Lucie Milosavljevich, one of our researchers.

Read more Social mobility: I'm proud of my background

Helping young people through RISE

Equipping students with vital employability skills so they can learn about life in business and raise their career aspirations.

Read more Helping young people through RISE

    Get in touch…

    Karen Robb, Partner and Social Mobility Convener

    Jenn Barnett, Head of I&D, Environment and Sustainability