03 May 2019 #Employment
The 2018-2019 report of the Social Mobility Commission, released this week, provides an opportunity for HR professionals to consider ways to add further value to businesses.
The report notes that, at present, getting into professional occupations is largely dependent on parental occupation. People from professional backgrounds are 80 per cent more likely to get into a professional job than their less privileged peers. It also identifies the fact that those in low paid roles tend to get stuck there.
Forward thinking businesses already recognise that having a more diverse team of senior employees will tend not only to reduce their exposure to legal and reputational risk but also to enhance their performance and resilience. However, there is a natural tendency, when assessing an organisation’s performance in terms of diversity and inclusion, to limit the scope of that assessment to characteristics which are protected under discrimination law, which does not include matters such as social background.
Given the performance and productivity benefits of having the most able people in the roles to which they are best suited, it must be beneficial to a business to ensure that there are no structural impediments in place preventing talented employees from all backgrounds reaching their potential.
One recommendation the report makes to businesses to address this is that when considering what qualifications to require in recruitment, employers should only require those academic and technical qualifications which are actually and demonstrably necessary to perform the advertised job.
Other measures business might consider, which are not in the report, include expanding ‘blind application’ processes so that recruitment decision-makers do not see signifiers of social background such as name of school attended and even home address.
Businesses who can successfully expand opportunities in this way to new hires and promotions can expect not only to benefit by having the right people in the right jobs but could also find this improves employee engagement more generally as a wider range of employees feel valued.