The index, compiled by the Social Mobility Foundation, is the authority on employer-led social mobility. Ranked at number two on this year’s index (up two places from 2021), Grant Thornton has prioritised social mobility for many years, consistently placing in the top ten of the Social Mobility Employers Index since it launched in 2017. The firm’s market-leading approach is driven by data and focuses on identifying and removing barriers to entry and progression for those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Here our people discuss our social mobility initiatives they are passionate about that demonstrate our commitment in this area.
Our social mobility initiatives
Rushnara Khanom, Senior Resourcing Adviser
We recruit around 80 young people annually through the Access Accountancy programme. This work experience programme welcomes talented ambitious young people from diverse backgrounds to our firm, to gain insight into professional services, develop networking skills and build confidence that they can apply at school, work and in life. Students are engaged and eager, partaking in workshops, discussions and presentations and many go on to apply for our apprenticeship roles.
We also ensure young people from low socio-economic backgrounds form a larger proportion of our trainee intake, providing extra coaching and increasing trainee numbers that come through our school leaver programme compared to our graduate programme.
Daniel Arda, Sustainability Manager
The pandemic has further widened the inequality gap, which means we must work even harder to help the next generation transition from education into work. We can all inspire young talent by sharing our business experience to inform and embolden their future career choices. In 2023, we aim to develop entrepreneurial skills in 5,500 students through our School Enterprise Programme and commit to mentoring young talent through the Rise initiative, Amos Bursary and Open Private School.
Vincent Egunlae, Corporate Finance Assistant Manager and Co-founder of the Open Private School
From the first moment we welcomed our students from the Open Private School, we changed lives. It gives those involved confidence and, more importantly, a professional friend. I’m so proud to work at a firm where senior individuals prioritise making a difference. Through workshops, partnerships and access to our alumni network, we've changed 60 lives so far and we plan to offer opportunities to every single state-educated student in the UK (only a few million to go!). Social diversity is often intersectional, particularly within ethnicity, and this is a key area for us.
Social mobility at Grant Thornton
We want to ensure that people from all socio-economic backgrounds have the opportunity to join and progress in our firm.
Justin Rix, People Advisory Partner and Social Mobility Board Member
I was asked to mentor a young person through the Open Private School, and I jumped at the opportunity. As well as helping someone access potentially life-changing career opportunities, mentoring also gives us the ability to tap into a fantastic talent pool with huge potential for us and our profession. As a young person, I stumbled across people who were instrumental in helping me find my feet at the start of my career. I now feel extremely privileged to be able to try to provide this same support, help and guidance to others.
I am a member of Grant Thornton's social mobility board, a sounding board of partners from low socio-economic backgrounds across the firm to advise on social mobility strategy and provide visible leadership, contributing towards our goal to support our social mobility objectives.
Tim Harrison-Place, Business Insights Senior Manager
Grant Thornton was the first professional services firm to undertake advanced data collection and analyse firmwide progression and pay data, focusing on how characteristics like gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background interact with each other.
We can extract and interpret data to directly inform our inclusion and diversity policies, identify disparities and show contextual data that helps our business leaders find practical remedies. It guides operational and strategic decision-making, and the ‘people’ component of our internal data warehouse is structured to support career progression analytics.
Karen Campbell-Williams, Board Sponsor for Social Mobility
We’ve made consistent progress with our social mobility strategy and are incredibly proud of our achievements to date that have been recognised by the Social Mobility Foundation.
As an area of hidden diversity, normalising conversations within professional services about the impact of coming from a low socio-economic background is vital, allowing us to better support colleagues, advocate for change, educate and raise awareness and, importantly, allow us to bring real diversity of thinking and a diverse approach to our client and wider relationships.
Jenn Barnett, Director and Head of I&D and ESG
As a firm, we have prioritised increasing access to people from low socio-economic backgrounds and removing barriers to progression for several years, and the scale of change has been huge. The index has proven to be an important tool to help us to action change both in our own firm and across the industry. Despite an increased focus on this area of diversity and the maturity of action plans addressing the problem, our efforts are continuing to pay off.