The government has published for the first time a list of the top 50 employers who have taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace. 

The index, a joint initiative between the Social Mobility Foundation and the Social Mobility Commission, ranks Britain’s employers on the actions they are taking for accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds. 

Nearly 100 employers from 17 sectors, who collectively employ just under one million people, submitted entries about their practices and procedures in areas such as work with young people, recruitment, selection and progression. The final rankings were decided by a panel of experts and all firms will receive a report with recommendations for areas for improvement. 

The following are some of the key findings: 

  • Firms are now increasingly asking both new and current employees about their social background. For instance, the type of school they went to; if they received free school meals; if they were the first in their family to go to university; parental occupation; and the postcode where they grew up.
  • The firms collectively scored the highest on their work with young people, providing outreach activities for over 663,000 young people, nearly 10,000 work experience placements and over 5,000 mentors. But they scored lowest on helping people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to progress in the workplace.
  • Nearly three-quarters of the organisations (72 per cent) are offering apprenticeships, but 77 per cent are at levels 2 and 4 (GCSE or A level equivalent) which have been shown to offer lower returns for the apprentices
  • 96 per cent of firms say they accept degrees from any university, but 61 per cent of successful applicants attended one of the country’s most selective 24 universities.
  • 11 Russell Group universities are visited by employers more than all the other UK universities combined and these 11 are all in the 20 per cent of universities with the lowest percentage of state school students in the country
  • Oxford and Cambridge are visited by more than 118 other institutions combined. Some firms still take all their recruits from the most selective universities. 

The top 10 firms named in the index are: Grant Thornton UK LLP; KPMG UK LLP; Skanska UK PLC; Standard Life; Deloitte UK; JP Morgan; PwC; Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP; WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc; and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. 

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors added “It is universally accepted that social mobility is vital in order to increase opportunities for people. However there remains much more employers can do to facilitate this. 

“For example in compiling the index, researchers found that just seventeen per cent of the employers who submitted entries had set social mobility targets as part of their overall business strategy. This suggests the issue is not as high on the agenda of many companies as it undoubtedly deserves to be”.