The Importance of Social Mobility to the Workplace

group of diverse workers

by Bryan Hyland, Commercial Director at Morgan McKinley

With social mobility awareness day coming up (June 15th), it is fitting to look at the role organisations can play in boosting social mobility by offering opportunities to people from more diverse, disadvantaged backgrounds.

Social mobility is the ability of a person or group to improve their social status, either through education and training or through individual achievement. In short, it’s about the opportunities that are presented to you in your life.

It can be defined as “the movement (or change) in a population’s distribution of income or wealth” over time and is often considered as having three components:

  • Intergenerational economic mobility – the ability to move up the economical ladder from one generation to the next;
  • Intragenerational economic growth – increasing income within one’s lifetime;
  • Individual economic growth – improving one’s position within society by acquiring more education and skills.

Social mobility is important because it provides people with the chance to improve their lives, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Social mobility affects everyone

Social mobility is not just about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. It’s not just about race or gender. Social mobility affects everyone.

It’s an important indicator of how well an economy is performing – and it can also be a way to measure your company’s success in hiring top talent from diverse backgrounds.

The more diverse your talent pool, the better chance you have of finding strong candidates who can add value to your organisation.

One way to do this is by looking for candidates who are underrepresented in your industry. For example, if you’re a technology company and the majority of your employees have university qualifications, consider placing more attention on relevant skills based hiring rather than education.

Employers play a key role in improving social mobility

Employers have a key role to play in the bigger social mobility picture by implementing more inclusive hiring practices. In truth, every organisation should consider socioeconomic diversity alongside gender, race, ethnicity, and other diversity dimensions.

Employers need to be more aware of the importance of social mobility for everyone; not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds but also those who have benefited from privilege..

They should also recognise that there are multiple routes into employment (e.g. apprenticeships) that provide more than suitable pathways for people to get into work, regardless of their background. The first hurdle to progress is overcoming unconscious biases in the hiring process.

The benefits of hiring from diverse backgrounds

Hiring from diverse backgrounds can be a powerful way to improve your business. In fact, research shows that diverse teams are more creativeproductive and innovative than homogeneous ones. They’re better at problem solving and identifying risks – and their ideas tend to be more original too.

Diversity in the workplace is good for everyone: It helps ensure that you have access to fresh perspectives, which can lead directly to better outcomes for your business as well as its customers, and it provides an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued by their peers (or potential peers).

Creating pathways for those from disadvantaged backgrounds

Aiding social mobility is all about creating pathways for those from disadvantaged backgrounds so they can fulfil their potential.

Education and social mobility are inextricably connected. If we want to reduce inequality, we need to get more people from disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education and then the workplace. The problem is that there are a lot of barriers for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Primarily, they don’t have the same access to education or preparation for the working world as those from more privileged backgrounds.

If we want a fairer society where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed, then it’s important that everyone has access to some form of higher education or training.

Progress for the greater good

Social mobility is an important part of a successful society. We all want to live in a world where everyone has the same opportunities and no one is left behind because of their background.

Social mobility can be improved by creating pathways for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, but it will take time and effort from everyone involved in order to achieve this goal.