UK: What Is Your Role In Encouraging Social Mobility?

Last Updated: 11 June 2012
Article by Deloitte LLP

The opening words of the new social mobility report launched by the All Party Parliamentary Group on this topic area states that the report was produced to "discuss and promote the cause of social mobility; to raise issues of concern and help inform policy makers and formers". Whilst the above objectives are certainly admirable, I guess it also helps to highlight the fact that the UK has not progressed as effectively as we all would have liked in regards to creating a fairer platform for all groups to push on in life. We remain in economically hard times with very high levels of unemployment. Upon this backdrop we must ask ourselves whether or not there is truly an appetite to get Britain socially mobile amongst those who have power. There is a great difference between the words appetite and desire. One can live with a desire to have something, but an appetite is a lot harder to ignore.

The findings of the parliamentary group's report are almost identical to the findings of a report we recently launched in Parliament titled; Race to the Top. Our report was launched in partnership with Deloitte. It focused on the experiences of black students within Higher Education, and their outlook on employment as a result. We found that black students are three times more likely to be unemployed upon graduation than white students, and that they were likely to earn 9% less after 5 years doing the same work. We also found that 60% of black students anticipated experiencing some form of discrimination when trying to progress in their careers. I guess the most interesting finding of the report for me was that students felt that government and policy careers were the most discriminatory to break into.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds tend to live in large communities where they have unique challenges. For example, there are large Pakistani communities in the North East, and we only need to look at the Bradford West by-election to hear their cry for help. African & Caribbean communities are heavily populated within inner city areas, and 50% of the young people from this background are unemployed. This is in contrast to the national average of 20%. Tower Hamlets has a large Bangladeshi community with huge academic and economic challenges, and 25% of Leicester is of Indian heritage. These differences simply cannot be ignored, because their size and potential benefits to our country in the longer term could be enormous. For in tomorrow's global world, having UK citizens with dual heritage could only add more value as we seek to win more international business, and to build new relationships in emerging markets. The challenge for everyone going forward, including those at Deloitte, is what we can do as individuals to ensure better outcomes for ethnic minority communities. Yes, there is certainly more room for structural changes within government and organisations, but we all have a part to play.

The gap between the rich and the poor has widened in recent years, and the question of who does what to ensure better social mobility outcomes is now firmly on the agenda. I would encourage all professionals to dedicate a set period of time each month to helping a person or a community to improve their overall outcomes. For in doing so not only will the benefactors be richer for it, but so will they.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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