In the new research findings, 89% of the 50 organisations surveyed agreed that leaders and decision makers should understand and represent all components of society, but 67% don’t have any measures in place to diversify the workforce by recruiting from working class backgrounds and 76% don’t actively monitor candidates’ economic background at the point of recruitment.
The charity also conducted qualitative research with employers within business, politics and the media to give a more in depth insight in to social mobility in the workplace. Participants in the research clearly articulated the value of a diverse workforce and recognised that opening their recruitment to individuals from a wider range of social backgrounds would benefit their organisations, allowing them to draw from the widest pool of talent possible. However they struggle to identify the best way to access more diverse applicants.
Ruth Ibegbuna (pictured right), founder of RECLAIM, is launching the Fairer Futures Campaign this week to tackle these problems. The Campaign is a powerful grassroots movement, led by working class young people who are typically unrepresented in UK leadership positions. She says “Our young people refer to themselves as ‘working class’ and refuse to be stigmatised as disadvantaged, demotivated, discouraged or unable to think critically and creatively.
“Post Brexit our young people are passionate about seizing opportunities and creating a more hopeful, equitable future. They are willing to strive and to unite with others to challenge leadership inequality wherever they find it. If Britain is to rebuild, it must start by utilising the whole of the diverse talent pool at its disposal; whether in Hampshire or Hartlepool. A young person’s postcode should be no indicator of their success.
“In recent years the increase in tuition fees and the worsening employment market has meant that young people from privileged backgrounds who enjoy financial support can not only take advantage of higher education but are also able to accept vital low or unpaid internships which, it should be noted, are often thanks to parental connections.”
And yet, Ibegbuna notes, “The real tragedy is that research points to the fact that 59% of recruitment professionals agree that a young person from a working class background, having overcome real and perceived barriers to finding employment, will therefore be more likely to show traits such as tenacity, compassion, loyalty and ambition as an employee.”
To launch the Fairer Futures Campaign, a panel of RECLAIM’s working class young people have written a manifesto to present to employers and politicians on a ‘Day of Action’ on 25th November. John Devlin is in his early twenties and will be presenting a manifesto which will outline a strategy to increase diversity in the workplace and ensure that ‘A postcode should never dictate potential’. This manifesto will then be delivered to the launch event hosted by KPMG in Manchester in the afternoon which will be attended by employers, politicians and Fairer Futures patrons. Jon Holt, Office Senior Partner, KPMG Manchester says: “KPMG are proud to support RECLAIM, in the work they do in Greater Manchester to support young people to become the leaders of tomorrow, and as they seek to influence the wider debate on social mobility. We look forward to continuing to support RECLAIM in their important work in the future.”
Fairer Futures Ambassador John Devlin says, “Employers say we are difficult to reach but often they just don’t try. Something as simple as paying travel expenses can make all the difference. Public transport is often inadequate, costly, and poorly serves those in rural communities in particular adding financial, logistical and geographical barriers to many young people.”
Ibegbuna comments that “We need a completely new approach to this problem and better understanding of all the dynamics. There are significant support and networking gaps for young people who lack personal or family connections within these industries, making them more likely to miss out on the great opportunities that are available. Similarly, employers lack the knowledge and strategies to reach those young people from non-traditional backgrounds. Charities, trusts and third sector organisations can and must have a role in enabling young people to achieve their potential.”