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Accountants set a new benchmark for social mobility

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has announced that Grant Thornton UK LLP, Deloitte LLP, EY, and KPMG are amongst 12 of the UK’s most high-profile companies recognised by the Government for leading the charge in ensuring young people have a better chance of getting on the jobs ladder.

The four professional services firms have been recognised as Social Mobility Business Compact ‘Champions’ and are pledging to continue taking the message out to other businesses across the country. They will build on activities already underway through the profession wide Access Accountancy programme, which is working to make the accountancy profession more representative, at all levels, of the socio-economic demographic of wider society.

The mission of the programme is to work towards everyone having an equal chance of accessing the accountancy profession based on merit not background. The recognition of the four firms as 'champions' shall hopefully incentivise those firms that have yet to sign up to Access Accountancy to do so. And commit alongside the current signatories to delivering practical experiences of work to school children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in order to provide insight, inspiration and information about careers in accountancy.

Sacha Romanovitch, Partner and Board Member for People & Culture, Grant Thornton UK LLP said: "For the UK it is critically important that everyone in society has the opportunity to participate in a vibrant economy. That is key to the success of our business too. Perhaps even more important it is just the right thing to do. It’s great to be awarded Social Mobility Compact Champion status and we hope that by showcasing some of the bold moves we’ve taken, like removing the barrier of fixed academic thresholds, we can inspire and enable others to re look at what else business can do to effect change.

"As chair of the ‘Access Accountancy’ initiative it is great to see three of our peers recognised for their work too. Our profession makes a big contribution to the economy and I’m excited about the collaboration across the profession to ensure that we open the door to anyone who has the talent and desire regardless of background. The leaders of today come from diverse social backgrounds; we’d like to ensure that is true of the leaders of tomorrow too."

David Barnes, managing partner for public policy and corporate responsibility at Deloitte, said: “We are honoured to be recognised as a champion for social mobility. As a socially aware business, it is a strategic imperative that we provide equal opportunities to all.

“There are tangible business benefits in recruiting from the widest available pool of talent, and the young people that join us are looking for careers in organisations that are agile and diverse. The Social Mobility Business Compact is an important initiative in encouraging behavioural change across the UK’s business community. We look forward to working with BIS to continue our efforts in this area and encourage others to do the same.”

Martin Cook, Managing Partner Commercial, UK & Ireland, at EY commented: “We are all responsible for making accountancy relevant to a diverse group of young people – no one business or industry should own social mobility: the scale of the challenge is just too great to tackle individually. It is the professions collective responsibility to work together to make wholesale change happen and raise awareness of the opportunities available to the thousands of young people in the UK who have never considered a career in accountancy, or thought it was an option for them.

“At EY we are playing our part by investing in new career entry routes like the EY school leaver programme. We’ve also launched a new charity, the EY Foundation, which helps young people disadvantaged in the labour market to get into work, education or self-employment, through programmes like Smart Futures. Becoming a Social Mobility Business Champion reinforces the importance of these investments and our role as an advocate for change, encouraging more businesses to work together to make access to the workplace fairer for all.”

Marianne Fallon, UK Head of Corporate Affairs at KPMG said : “A person’s background can have a huge impact on their chances in life, with disadvantage passed from generation to generation. Social mobility is all about breaking that link and to be recognised as a champion in this space is an honour as we continue with our ‎commitment to advancing social mobility. “As a large business of over 12,000 people, we can make a real difference to people’s lives. Our social mobility programmes are ambitious and our determination to support disadvantaged communities will only be galvanised through this programme. We hope to make a real impact with our focus, both for our own business in recruiting and working with a diverse talent base, but more importantly, within the communities that we operate in.”