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Top 75 UK employers for social mobility revealed

*Top 75 UK dominated by Law 36%, the Public sector 25% and Financial services 13% – PwC ranked No 1 employer

* *Index results come amidst 1 million young people being out of work due to Covid-19

Today, the Top 75 UK employers in 2020 who have taken the most action on social mobility in the workplace are announced. Now in its fourth year, the Employer Index has become the leading authority on employer best practice in the field of social mobility.

The Index is the creation of the Social Mobility Foundation and ranks the UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to access and progress talent from all backgrounds. It highlights the employers doing the most to change the way they find, recruit and progress talented employees from different social class backgrounds.

119 employers who employ over 1.1 million people in the UK across 18 different sectors took part in this year’s Index, answering around 100 questions across 7 key areas.

PwC retained its position as the UK’s number one social mobility employer, having demonstrated continuous improvement over the past year. The full list can be viewed below.

The Top 75 Social Mobility Employer Index rankings (click to enlarge)

Top 75 Social Mobility Employer Index rankings 2020

Click here to see the findings from the 2019 Employer Index.

Key findings from the 2020 Index include:

  • Despite the government focus on levelling up, only 36% of businesses are setting social mobility targets within their organisation despite 85% of respondents feeling their clients care about the social class mix of their workforce
  • Tech companies have seen profits soar during Covid-19. The combined post-tax profits of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have grown by $39bn during Covid-19. None of these tech giants entered the Index
  • Many businesses are not being transparent about who they employ with only 29% of entrants publishing socio-economic background data on their workforce
  • Only 11% of businesses track if they have a class pay gap despite the Social Mobility Commission finding that those from working class background face a 7% pay gap in Britain’s professional and managerial occupations compared to their peers from better-off backgrounds
  • In law, a sector where we have received significant submissions for four years, there appears to be an unwillingness to recruit outside of Russell Group Universities. 84% of legal firms graduate intakewas from a Russell Group university
  • However, it is positive to see employers investing more heavily in employee development, with 48% of organisations offering buddying and mentoring support (up from 30% in 2019) and networks of employees from similar backgrounds up at 40% (from 26% in 2019). This progress is welcome given the importance of peer support for career progression. This work could be enhanced by diversity awareness training with a focus on social mobility – only 34% of organisations currently offer this which is unchanged from 2019.

Sarah Atkinson, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“Congratulations to all the businesses who submitted this year amidst challenging circumstances. Now more than ever, business must commit to supporting opportunities for young people. We urge those sectors not represented in this year’s Index to make a public commitment to supporting social mobility in 2021 by joining the ranks of those employers who are already making such a difference to young people’s life chances”.

The Rt. Hon Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“It is welcome that more and more UK businesses are stepping up to the social mobility plate.  Their efforts are changing lives for tens of thousands of our country’s young people.

“But more must be done.  As the Covid-19 crisis continues and the UK descends into a sharp recession, avoiding a jobs catastrophe for young people must become a priority for all large employers.   Already 60% of the jobs that have been lost since the pandemic began have been among 18-24-year olds. While older people have been the principal health victims of Covid-19. It is incumbent on government and business to ensure that young people are not its social and economic victims.

“Those businesses who have benefitted most financially from Covid-19 have the biggest duty to give back.  The tech giants in particular need to take urgent action to put social mobility on their agendas.”

About the Social Mobility Employer Index

The Social Mobility Employer Index is comprised of two elements, questions directed at employers, and an employee survey, which was introduced in 2018. The former assesses employers work across seven areas: their work with young people, routes into the employer, the attraction of staff, recruitment and selection, data collection, progression of staff and experienced hires and advocacy. The latter is to add qualitative insights and contextualise the data provided in submissions. Employers are then benchmarked against one another based on the results.

The full report is available here and includes details of the Index methodology.

Notes to editors

Rt. Hon Alan Milburn and Sarah Atkinson are available for interviews and further comment and if you wish to speak to a particular employer please contact:

Antony Haddley, Communications Manager, SMF


T: 07841 577627

About the Social Mobility Foundation

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity that aims to make practical improvements in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds both through programme work and through its advocacy and campaigning arm, the Department for Opportunities (DO).

It runs free of charge programmes of mentoring, internships, university application support (including trips to universities and help with personal statements, aptitude tests and interviews) and career and skills workshops to support young people through their school and university years.

Currently taking on a new cohort of over 2000 young people every year, the SMF has offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle and runs programmes for young people from the Isle of Wight to the Western Isles of Scotland across 11 career sectors (Accountancy, Architecture, Banking & Finance, Biology & Chemistry, Business, Engineering & Physics, Law, Media & Communications, Medicine, Politics, and Digital).

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