Kathryn Davies is Employer Index Manager at the Social Mobility Foundation, and was previously a Senior Programmes Manager at The Sutton Trust, where she played a key role in establishing Access Accountancy.
The Social Mobility Employer Index (The Index), which launched for the first time this year, is a joint initiative between the Social Mobility Foundation and the Social Mobility Commission. It will collect data from participating organisations about their social mobility work across a range of different areas, and a list of the highest scoring firms will then be published later this year.
The Index comes at a time when many organisations are identifying improved social mobility as a key business strategy. For too long, diversity in certain sectors and professions (such as banking, law, media, accountancy and the sciences) has been focussed on gender and race/ethnicity alone. This means that a firm can often appear diverse in brochures, but in reality hires disproportionately from a tiny proportion of backgrounds: predominately the 7% of people whose families could afford to send their children to private school.
In the past five or so years however, the most forward-thinking employers have turned their minds to the social diversity of their workforces in an effort to access talent they were not accessing with their traditional approach. The Index will identify those who’ve done so most seriously across seven key areas:
- Work with young people;
- Routes into the employer;
- Recruitment and selection;
- Data collection;
- Progression and experienced hires; and
- Internal and external advocacy
We only require organisations to be able to answer questions in a minimum of one full section (in addition to providing the workforce information in section one) in order to submit. Across all seven areas the Index will look for evaluation of outcomes, rather than the counting of outputs, and for positive year by year trends. We do not anticipate that any organisation will be able to answer every question or section of the Index, and understand that all employers are at different stages of their social mobility journey.
Clear plans from organisations to take some actions where they haven’t before will also be rewarded. Each employer will receive a detailed feedback report highlighting areas where they performed well and areas where improvements can be made. Annual submissions to the Index will therefore enable employers to make tangible progress towards their social mobility goals.
Should they wish, firms can opt to remain anonymous and simply make a submission in order to receive feedback on their current strategy and how they compare to others in their sector. The Index is not a ‘name and shame’ exercise, but rather one to highlight the best examples other firms can learn from.
The Index is free to enter, and is now open for submissions. The deadline is 3rd May 2017, and the list will be published in The Times before the summer.
We hope that the Index will serve as a framework to help organisations to identify actions they can take to improve social mobility and will, eventually, become a tool students can use to make informed decisions about the organisations they choose to work for.
Queries about the index should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org