Social mobility

Widening access to our profession is a win-win

Malcolm Gomersall Malcolm Gomersall

This week, a ground-breaking piece of social mobility research, along with a series of commitments to improve accessibility to accountancy, has been published by Access Accountancy and The Bridge Group.

The research found that while action taken across the accountancy profession to improve social mobility has increased access for young people from wider socio-economic backgrounds, there is still more to do.

The research was based on detailed analysis of socioeconomic background data from applicants and hires across ten firms and three professional bodies, including Grant Thornton, as well as an analysis of the impact of Access Accountancy work experience placements at nine firms.

With diverse companies found to be more likely to win over top talent, and subsequently improve areas like employee satisfaction, leading to a more positive return, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • Identify a board member who has accountability for socio-economic diversity
  • Ring-fence a proportionate number of places for students from under-represented groups on internship programmes
  • Avoid using A-Level (or equivalent) grades as a single filter for talent and where A-Level grades are used, they should be considered in the context in which they were achieved
  • Give careful consideration to the extent to which online tests are a precise tool for assessing required competences
  • Consider, wherever practicable, the introduction of regional assessment centres outside of London

We are looking at these recommendations to see how we implement them in our firm and look forward to working with our colleagues at Access Accountancy on what we can achieve collectively.

As a firm, we started our social mobility journey three years ago with a vision to be more representative of all levels of society. The work we’ve done so far has shown us that by investing in social mobility we bring alive our purpose, to shape a vibrant economy for our clients and our people. It gives access to a hidden talent pool, bringing diverse perspectives which better reflect the clients we serve and the communities we work within.

Our contribution was recognised by the Social Mobility Foundation earlier this year when we were ranked first in the 2017 Social Mobility Employer Index. Whilst we’re proud of what we’ve done so far, this research illustrates there’s more work to be done.