Jessica Fino 11 Jul 2018 10:55am

KPMG named best social mobility employer

The biggest UK accountancy firms were among the top 10 employers for social mobility this year

The index, created by the Social Mobility Foundation in partnership with the City of London Corporation, ranks UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds.

KPMG rose one place since last year, replacing Grant Thornton (GT) as the number one employer for social mobility this year.

Melanie Richards, KPMG’s deputy chair, said the title “is an immense source of pride to us and will spur us on to do even more together to drive forward this agenda at every level in our business.

“For us, social mobility is an integral part of the future of our business and the future of UK plc, which is why we will be collaborating with the wider business community to build on this success. Over the coming months we will be redoubling our efforts to take this work forward to create a fairer firm, pushing for a fairer industry and increasing opportunity for all within it,” she said.

GT came second in the top 50 table, followed by the Ministry of Justice and law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

In 2013, GT was the first professional services firm to drop academic entry requirements at graduate and school leaver entry level.

Malcolm Gomersall, head of people and client experience at the mid-tier firm, said, “to attract diversity we first need to embrace different ideas and approaches to the way we work, and challenge ourselves to step up and create an inclusive culture. As a firm, we continue to build a culture of inquiry through developing the coaching skills of our people managers.

“We are encouraging our people to respect diversity of views and develop a growth, rather than a fixed mind-set. As part of our inclusion strategy, we are looking at how we can address both systemic and cultural barriers so that we encourage the progression of a diverse range of people.”

Deloitte, PwC and EY followed in fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively. The rest of the top 10 included Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the Civil Service Fast Stream and Baker McKenzie.

EY jumped from 16th to seventh this year and was particularly commended for its parental advice campaign, launched during exam results season last year.

Steve Varley, EY’s UK chairman, explained, “We are mindful of the many, many talented students in schools and colleges across the country with exceptional promise that are missing out on the chance to fulfil their potential, based on their socio-economic background. We want to help change that.

“We are continuing to explore how we can create more routes into the profession to suit different individuals and their circumstances, for instance by offering 60 new digital degree apprenticeships this year that will offer students a way to complete a BSc (Bachelors in Science), whilst working and earning a salary, without the associated university debt.”

Deloitte maintained its position from last year and was praised for actions it has taken towards improving social mobility in the workplace, including the implementation of contextualised recruitment in 2015.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, said, “we believe a person’s background shouldn’t dictate their future and we have been working hard to ensure that this is reflected in our approach to recruitment and development.

“This has included taking steps such as contextualisation and academic institution-blind recruitment which are showing results in our student intake. Beyond our own firm, we are helping to raise aspirations, improve skills and develop leaders through our One Million Futures social impact strategy.”

Mazars ranked 16th on the list – the first time it has submitted an application. Its partner and head of People & Culture, Ian Wrightson, noted that the firm was delighted with the result as was “already looking at the ways we can make further progress”.

“This shows us that we are on the right track to creating an inclusive and welcoming business for our staff,” he added.

Last year was the first edition of the index. Only GT, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC featured in the top 10, in first, second, fifth and seventh place respectively.

David Johnston, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said it was “very impressed by the efforts employers are making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all backgrounds”.

“We can really see organisations taking a whole host of actions to try and ensure that they have a diverse workforce in terms of socio-economic background as well as in terms of gender and race; they in turn are benefitting from accessing a much wider talent pool than they have traditionally recruited from. All entrants should be praised for broadening their approach.”

Meanwhile, Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said that improving the UK’s social mobility record requires action by employers, and businesses have been showing real ambition in their approach to tackling the UK’s social mobility problem.

“We must remove hurdles for young people who have the talent, but may lack the network of guidance, support and connections to get ahead. They are the future workforce which will make sure that the UK prospers in the long term,” she added.

The index included over 100 employers from 18 sectors, who collectively employ over one million people. These included banks, law firms, government departments, engineering firms, retail firms and technology companies. Moreover, 11,000 people took part in a voluntary employee survey.