Leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP has been recognised for its ongoing commitment to social mobility by the third annual Social Mobility Employer Index, ranking 8th in the 2019 Index of top UK employers.
The Index, created by the Social Mobility Foundation, ranks UK employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all class backgrounds. Employers are assessed on the work they do with young people and apprenticeship programmes, through to their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower income backgrounds progress within their organisations.
Over the last few years, Grant Thornton has proactively pursued a market leading approach to social mobility, including being the first firm to drop academic entry requirements at graduate and school leaver level. The firm also redesigned its trainee application form to remove any weightings around extra-curricular activities and work experience and redefined its target schools and universities. These measures are now frequently being adopted by other organisations.
Building on these successful changes, in 2018, the firm updated its work experience policy putting an end to informal placements for friends, family and client contacts. Recognising that diverse talent requires agile pathways, the firm also re-worked its professional exam failure policy to ensure it has no adverse impact on those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. It also introduced a new pathway to gaining full chartered status with Leadership Through Sport and Business and developed an algorithm to de-bias the digital interview process for trainees.
Jenn Barnett, head of diversity and inclusion, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:
“Social mobility is a core element within our broader inclusivity agenda and we’re proud to have again been recognised as one of the top employers leading the way in this area. But if we want to see widespread progress, it is not enough to simply make changes yourself; collaboration and the sharing of ways in which others can play their part is vital.
“We have championed the social mobility agenda for many years and we’re proud to have inspired other firms to engage with this important issue. Measures that felt quite pioneering when we first started our journey in 2013, such as being the first professional services firm to remove academic barriers to entry, have now become much more mainstream. It’s exciting to see these initiatives being replicated and the amount of progress now being made by so many other organisations.
“We believe that our profession should be representative of society and continue to challenge ourselves to create a firm that provides equal opportunity to everyone, regardless of background, and not just as a new joiner. We are now looking at progression within the firm to better understand the current barriers that exist and ensure a level playing field throughout a person’s career at Grant Thornton.”
David Johnston OBE, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:
“We are delighted to see more and more employers every year taking part in our Social Mobility Employer Index. The quality of submissions this year meant we have increased the size of our Top list from 50 to 75 and it shows the very wide range of organisations trying to make progress on social mobility. Whilst no employer would say they have cracked their social mobility challenge, all of the employers in the Top list – along with those that didn’t quite make it – should be congratulated for the efforts they’re making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all class backgrounds.”
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, added:
"Social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country's top employers. When politics is weak, society needs to be strong - so it is welcome a growing number of employers are stepping up to the plate. They recognise the need to open their doors to a wider pool of talent both to address growing public concerns about unfairness and to reap the business benefits from having more diverse workforces. The onus is now on all of our country's top employers to do the same."