Our partners at PwC share their thoughts on why improving social mobility as a leading employer is so important.

At PwC we believe that someone’s talent and determination should decide how far they progress in their career. Unfortunately we know that this isn’t always the case and too many people are held back because of where they grew up, where they went to school or what their parents did for a living. As one of the leading employers in the UK, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to try to put that right. Improving social mobility in the UK is strongly linked to our overarching purpose: to solve important problems and build trust in society. It makes strong business sense to hire the right people no matter their background – it provides diversity of thought, allowing us to better serve our clients, and reflect the markets and communities we work in. The pandemic has created a situation where social mobility has never been more important – or more challenging. With our strong regional presence –  more than 10,000 of our 22,000 people are based outside of London – and our cross sector working, we can use our skills, networks and reach to make a positive impact on social mobility in the UK.

There is still a lot of work to be done to make the professional and financial services sector more inclusive and socio-economically diverse, and a collaborative approach to improving social mobility across regions and industries is crucial. Action is needed across the whole of the UK to tackle inequality in some of the country’s most deprived areas. We work with many organisations working to improve social mobility in the UK including the Sutton Trust.

Our aim is to:

  • lead by example as an employer and be recognised as an inclusive organisation where people from all backgrounds are able to work, develop and succeed;
  • use our skills and resources to enable people from disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK to make the most of their potential, whether at PwC or elsewhere.

We look to achieve this by focusing on the following areas:

Inclusion

  • attracting and recruiting more people from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • giving everyone we recruit the opportunity to develop and progress while they’re at PwC.

Community

  • supporting social mobility within disadvantaged communities;
  • delivering volunteering programmes for our people to support the above.

Advocacy

  • advocating the importance of increased social mobility and the impact of our strategy and actions to both our internal and external stakeholders;
  • collaborating with others and using our influence to achieve the multiplier effect.

For us, the business case is clear:

  • Talent
    • diversity of thought delivers better outcomes for our business and our clients;
    • access to an untapped group of talented people.
  • Competitive advantage
    • differentiation in a competitive market through positive impact on reputation and the perception of our business.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • It’s the right thing to do;
    • positive impact on society and the wider UK economy.

Some of our highlights from the past year include:

  • Publishing our socio-economic pay gap and data on the socio-economic background of our people for the first time, calculated using information on employees’ parental occupation.
  • Continuing to invest in our school and college leaver programme throughout the pandemic, with 124 people joining the programme in 2020, and a similar number joining us through this route this year, having had their offers guaranteed regardless of their A Level results. The programme offers people the chance to train and take professional qualifications while earning, setting applicants on the same career trajectory as our graduates.
  • Recruiting for our first ‘New World New Skills’ paid work experience programme ringfenced for year 12 (or equivalent) students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Working with partner organisations we recruited around 200 students to join the week-long programme. All of the students offered places on the programme met our social mobility criteria – 45% are eligible for Free School Meals, 84% attend non-selective state school, 75% come from an ethnic minority background and 33% are Black.
  • Over 200 students joined our ‘Flying Start Accounting’ degree programmes in the last financial year, bringing the total number of students on this programme to around 650. These are four-year bespoke courses, which blend traditional university with practical paid work experience at PwC throughout the degree. This makes degrees more accessible and career focused.
  • Launching our first ‘Flying Start Financial Bursary’ available to students across all of our accounting degrees. Successful applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds will be supported with the day-to-day costs of university life through a £10,000 bursary split across their four-year degree.
  • Partnering with the Refugee Council on a number of programmes including an employability skills development series programme run quarterly for Refugee Council clients.

Our work with the Sutton Trust enables us to reach and attract applications from students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We worked closely with the Sutton Trust to recruit 36 students on Sutton Trust pathways programmes to take part in our New World New Skills paid work experience programme in Summer 2021. We believe that every small action that employers take – like work experience, mentoring or monitoring data brings us one step closer to a society where everyone can make the most of their talents.

 

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