“Talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t”

Those from lower socio-economic groups are missing out on promotion and recognition in the workplace, says Rosalind Goates, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, at the Social Mobility Foundation (pictured).

Rosalind recently joined us to speak at Diversity Network’s INCLUSION Festival as part of a panel discussion about how to improve social mobility pathways.

Did you know that there is a class pay gap of around £6,000 for those employees from low socio-economic backgrounds? And this figure rises for women and those from ethnic minorities.

“Professionals from working-class backgrounds are being paid less than their more privileged peers in the same occupation, £6,291 – or 12 per cent less – a year. This means that they effectively work 1 in 8 days for free,” says the Social Mobility Foundation’s Class Pay Gap Report 2023.  

Workers in the private sector face a larger class pay gap than in the public sector – that’s more than 80 per cent of the workforce. Workers in Northern Ireland face the largest class pay cap, followed by Wales, The South & East of England, London and the North, which have Class Pay Gaps that range from £7,000 to £5,000. The lowest class pay gaps are found in Scotland, at £3,503, and the Midlands, at £2,690.

The Social Mobility Foundation publishes Social Mobility Index with the 75 top UK employers concentrating on this issue. All organisations that enter their statististics can get help for how to improve their socio-economic make-up. PwC was the top employer in 2024. The Foundation also has a toolkit for organisations that are committed to measuring, benchmarking and advancing their social mobility initiatives.

“Measuring your socio-economic diversity is critical to driving success,” says the Foundation, of its guide to what questions to ask employees to assess the socio-economic makeup of an organistion; why those questions should be asked; how to analyse and interpret the results; and comparing results with benchmarking data.

The toolkit can help employers in two ways – for those looking to develop a strategy to increase socio-economic diversity, and also for organisations keen to optimise their approach. It includes information about leadership and culture, outreach, recruitment, progression, advocacy.

The toolkit shares these three tips to make a start:

  • Remember – all buildings start with the laying of those first blocks
  • You don’t need a huge budget – start, prove a concept so the value can be seen, and go from there
  • Start with the right mindset and belief in socio-economic diversity – you will have challenges and hurdles to overcome. Start with a base of commitment and conviction for your actions

All employers can access the toolkit here.

Rosalind Goates of the Social Mobility Foundation recently spoke at Diversity Network’s Inclusion Festival along with fellow panelists Mitra Janes, Head of D&I, Investment Banking, Markets and Commercial Banking Divisions, HSBC, and Alison Weatherhead, Head of People, Reward and Mobility, Dentons. They discussed:

  • How to increase social mobility and why it doesn’t just stop at the door
  • What is social mobility and how does it differ from one country to another?
  • Creating a shift in traditional pathways to employment 
  • How to do contextual recruitment well
  • Tackling social demographic pay gaps and fixing the rate of progression
  • Why aren’t we making progress more quickly?

Click here to become a member of Diversity Network, and access the panel discussion and a wide range of other related content.

Further Social Mobility Foundation resources:

Click here to access the Social Mobility Index.

For a very different take on how employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds are treated in the workplace, take a look at the Social Mobility Foundation’s short horror film, Stay Down.

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