Where we come from is an important part of our identities, however it should not define or limit our aspirations. I was reminded of this while at Moseley School in Birmingham last week, where 40% of the 1,400 students are eligible for free school meals. The importance of social mobility at the school cannot be under-estimated in light of the uncomfortable fact that across the UK, children receiving free school meals achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE (source: Child Poverty Action Group). Social mobility is a complex issue, but last week we demonstrated our commitment to playing our part in addressing it through Social Mobility Week and some other commitments.
Through our Deloitte Access programme with Teach First, Moseley is one of the many schools we work with to ensure we are living our purpose – making an impact that matters. Some may ask what ‘living our purpose’ means in practical terms and how firms like ours can make an impact that matters when it comes to social mobility.
For Deloitte, we live our purpose by:
- recruiting the best people, from a diverse range of backgrounds and by creating an environment that helps everyone to succeed – irrespective of where they have come from
- creating a culture and opportunities for our people to thrive – we are developing leaders for tomorrow
- providing the best service to our clients, bringing diversity of thought to provide innovative solutions to our clients’ biggest challenges
- engaging in the wider public discussion on the importance of social impact through our recognition by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills as Social Mobility Business Compact Champions, our support for the Access Accountancy initiative, our partnership with the Social Progress Imperative and a number of other organisations
- …and many more inspiring examples which we have shared in our 2015 Impact Report
My visit to Moseley School was inspiring and it was great to see that our relationship with the school, which we began over five years ago initially in collaboration with CBI’s ‘Business in the Classroom’ programme, continues to deliver value to the students through skills development. Four students from Moseley had also spent a week in our offices earlier in the year as part of our ASPIRE programme, during which time they took part in skills workshops and work-shadowing to develop their skills and networks.
We believe that we have an important part to play at the heart of business which includes engaging our clients and other stakeholders in addressing the issue of social mobility. I invited some clients to join me at Moseley with the Teach First team, and we spent valuable time with the school staff to discuss inequality in the West Midlands and how business can better support schools in their commitment to educate and provide a breadth of opportunities for the pupils. We discussed important issues; what schools and pupils need most from business, how organisations can best engage, and the lessons we can learn from past experiences to ensure we make progress on the issue of social mobility. It was an uplifting afternoon and there was a clear desire for action and collaboration.
We acknowledge that it will require more than a week to see the required results. Our response to the social mobility challenge reflects the value we place on recruiting and developing diverse talent and you will have seen the commitments we have made as a firm; introducing contextualisation in our recruitment process, introducing school and university-blind interviews, redesigning and growing our BrightStart Business Apprenticeship Programme, and offering more work experience positions in our offices to students from low-income communities.
Social mobility is important to Deloitte in our search for the brightest talent, and we cannot afford to inadvertently disadvantage those from low-income backgrounds. We have a responsibility to ensure that the many talented students at schools like Moseley are open to the opportunities that will enable them to achieve their full potential.
Nick Owen, Chairman, Deloitte UK
Nick Owen is Chairman at Deloitte UK. Nick previously led our Private Sector Consulting Industry Team and has 28 years’ experience predominantly in the private sector working with Oil & Gas, Media, Telecommunications, Life Sciences, Consumer and Manufacturing businesses.
As Chairman, Nick focuses on how Deloitte UK makes an impact that matters: building trust and confidence in the capital markets, supporting growth and competitiveness of UK plc in our client work, investing in the skills and development of our people and contributing to society through our support of education initiatives and social enterprises. Nick is also a member of The Business Advisory Council of Teach First, Council member of Heart of the City and also represents Deloitte as founding partner of the 30% Club.