City of London Corporation: Firms need to be more ‘ambitious’ on social mobility

Corporation backs Social Mobility Employers’ Index which showcases companies accessing talent from all backgrounds

The City of London Corporation has called on the UK’s top companies to be more ambitious in their approach to tackling social mobility.

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said that a level playing field of opportunity is in the best interests for all businesses and warned that the UK’s long-term economic sustainability is vulnerable unless its skills gap is plugged.

His comments came as the Corporation today announced its role as the sponsor for the Social Mobility Employers’ Index, a new initiative from the Social Mobility Foundation and Social Mobility Commission - which ranks Britain’s top businesses on how open they are to accessing talent from all backgrounds.

The Social Mobility Employers’ Index gives firms from across the UK the opportunity to showcase real progress they are making towards improving social mobility by ensuring they recruit the best people for the job - regardless of their social background.

The City of London Corporation is supporting the Index with £70,000 funding as part of its aim to encourage and support responsible businesses, residents and workers to help change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Research has consistently shown that people from more affluent backgrounds, who attend private schools and elite universities, take a disproportionate number of the best jobs.

Many major companies have taken positive action to tackle this and remove hurdles for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who have the talent, but lack the network of guidance, support and connections to get ahead.

The index is an important benchmarking initiative targeted at ‘elite’ sectors which, traditionally, have low rates of social mobility – such as law, accountancy, media, banking and finance and the sciences.

The aim is to encourage firms to compete to remove hurdles to find the best and brightest candidates - whatever their background - and to reveal which sectors and companies are taking the issue of social mobility most seriously.

To take part, firms will answer a range of questions about their practices and procedures in areas such as recruitment, selection and progression. They will be ranked by a respected panel of experts and receive recommendations for areas for improvement.

The stand-out performers in each category and firm that has most improved its approach will be announced later this year – along with the final rankings.

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “Social background should not determine career success and it’s in everyone’s interest to level the playing field for the future workforce.

"While an increasing number of firms are creating paid internships and apprenticeships to attract bright young people from low-income backgrounds, many others could be much more ambitious in their handling of social mobility.

“Giving young people experience of the work environment and helping them gain skills can raise their ambitions, boost their career prospects and open up a wide pool of talent for businesses.

“The UK’s long-term economic sustainability is left vulnerable unless we bridge the skills gap by casting the net wider in the search for talent.”

The Corporation has recently pledged to hire 100 new apprentices. This figure, combined with 17 current roles, will give 117 career-starters a role in the organisation. Its report - ‘City’s Business’ - highlights the vital role that Square Mile institutions can play in reducing youth unemployment in London.

The City of London Business Traineeship programme, also helps state school students from the City’s neighbouring boroughs to develop the skills needed for a successful career.

David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working with the City of London on this important initiative. It is a real statement of intent about its commitment to the issue of improving social mobility in the UK and its desire to support employers within its orbit to be open to talent from all backgrounds.”

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, added: “The City of London Corporation is leading by example by opening its doors to people from all social backgrounds. While many businesses are making excellent progress, we also want others to be more ambitious in their efforts to recruit, and keep, the best and brightest candidates.”

Firms wishing to enter the index can do so at

For further information, please contact

Kirsty Walker, the Social Mobility Commission, on 020 7227 5371 / 07768 446167 or

Emily Hodgson, Social Mobility Foundation, on 0207 183 1189 or

Stephanie Basten, City of London Corporation, on 0207 332 3256 / 0772 563 6 917or