15 June 2023
Moving the Dial on Social Mobility: Barriers, Opportunities and Expert Advice
June 15th is Social Mobility Day, which means there’s never been a better time to talk about what social mobility is, why it matters and how we can all help to create a fairer, more equal path to success for everyone.
As part of our celebration of the day, the Social Mobility Commission asked Raj Tulsiani, CEO and Founder of Green Park, to discuss the big questions he gets asked about social mobility, and how organisations can think different about their approach to recruitment in order to attract the most talented candidates, whatever their background.
Raj states that as a global talent advisory firm, we support our clients in a variety of ways – two questions that are becoming more frequently asked are:
How do we improve the socio-economic diversity within our organisation?
A question we are delighted to hear – as it shows intent to do something about either a known disparity (from internal data collection) or one they fear they have. A question also that could easily be applied to all facets of diversity, and their interlocking intersectionalities. The challenge with socio-economic diversity and the desire to improve social mobility more broadly, is partially that it isn’t a protected characteristic, so can be seen as a tricky one to address, and partially that it intersects with everything else, often in a non-visible or privately held way. Yet tackling biased preconceptions around class and social mobility holds tremendous possibility to release a diversity dividend.
How do we find candidates, which will help us improve our social-economic diversity representation throughout the organisation, not just at entry level?
Organisations need to adopt a build and buy strategy.
Firstly, there needs to be an organic strategy to drive advocacy and retention within the business e.g., talented individuals progressing on their own merits, people hired in above them following a relatable path and storytelling. Green Park’s head hunting and diversity and inclusion consultancy, DICE, provide carefully constructed and unified support and guidance on a regular basis, but each situation is different so there is no cut and paste shortcut I’m afraid.
Secondly, it’s about the courage of adopting a new mindset and approach to enable you to acquire talent in a different way, which is based on the culture and capabilities you need to support your organisation now and in the future, as opposed to focusing on yesterday’s culture fit.
Being open to seeing individuals who have had a different journey, in a different context, is critical, as is weighing up attraction, retention, and training in a more technically transparent way. It might not be conventional for every sector, but what a great way to stand out in a busy market.
We are also reassured when either of these questions are followed up by, ‘because we know how it will help drive the business forward, we want to be recognised internally as becoming a more inclusive employer, we want to reflect the customers and communities we serve, or we want to accelerate much needed change.’ We are hearing fewer tokenistic narratives i.e. ‘we need to meet a quota’, which suggest the organisational benefits are not understood, superficial actions are taken and then deprioritised as soon as possible.
So, a follow up question might be…
Is there one thing an organisation can do to accelerate change?
If there was one solution which accelerated change more broadly then life would be much simpler, but there isn’t. It takes effort, commitment, investment (not big budgets), transparency, measurement, and acceptance that change means doing some things differently. There’s little point in tinkering around the edges.”
This article was originally published on the Social Mobility Commission on 15th June 2023. Read the article here.