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London Works launches SHIFT Campaign at Social Mobility forum

Image for London Works launches SHIFT Campaign at Social Mobility forum
London Works' Julie Hutchinson at the Social Mobility Forum

Key researchers, employers and stakeholders working to dismantle barriers to employment gathered together on Wednesday 16th September for a panel discussion on social mobility and the launch of London Works’ SHIFT Campaign, hosted by Macquarie.

Terry Waldron, Barclays Global Head of Facilities and ELBA Trustee, welcomed attendees to the Macquarie offices and reiterated Barclays’ commitment to improving social mobility through both its charitable investment in London Works and through its hiring practices. She spoke about the importance of working to reduce the gap in opportunity between young people in east London, and to ensure that access to high-level corporate employment is attainable for all.

Liam Kane, ELBA Chief Executive, informed guests about ELBA’s continued work in the Social Mobility arena over a 20 year period, and highlighted that ELBA and its members now have a window of opportunity in which to deliver change in the way talent is viewed and sourced.

Guests then heard from Dr Louise Ashley, lead academic and co-author of the Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission’s recently published report on “Barriers to the Elite Professions”, who presented the findings of this important research.

Dr Ashley warned that patterns of low social mobility “can result from the tendency of more senior professionals to promote in their own image and thus ‘misrecognise’ merit”, and stressed the need for firms to collectively redefine their notion of merit in order to ensure equal access to opportunity. Rather than about being ‘polished’ and ‘confident’, words she cites as often used to describe graduates from selective or fee-paying schools, she suggested that ‘talent’ should be opened out to a broader and more diverse definition, perhaps comprising qualities like resilience, determination and tenacity.

Liam Kane then chaired a thought-provoking panel discussion, combining input from Dr Ashley with thoughts and contributions from:

  • Felix Hebblethwaite, Global Head of Recruitment and Resourcing, Linklaters
  • Jenny Baskerville, Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility, KPMG
  • Jonny Gifford, Research Advisor, CIPD
  • Julie Hutchinson, Managing Director, London Works
  • Martin Stanley, Global Head, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Macquarie
  • Professor John Joughin, Vice Chancellor, University of East London
  • Terry Waldron, Global Head of Facilities, Barclays

The Q&A session sparked a fascinating conversation about the need to both nurture the self-esteem of candidates who lack confidence, and to help employers broaden and re-imagine their definition of talent so that nontraditional candidates are more likely to feel they can assimilate within corporate environments.

In closing the discussion, Julie Hutchinson unveiled London Works’ SHIFT Campaign, which will see the organisation redouble its efforts to engage the ELBA membership in advancing social mobility by offering companies:

  • Access to a series of workshops to help make social mobility central to recruitment practices 
  • Increased opportunities to meet and interact with London Works candidates by offering Talent Showcase networking events
  • Recognition with the launch of the SHIFT Awards Ceremony, to be held in September 2016, designed to acknowledge active employers across the social mobility agenda.

The speeches and agenda finished at 7pm, with networking continuing long after this; a reflection of the palpable enthusiasm and commitment to tackling the challenges raised by the SHIFT Campaign.

To read the Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission’s recent report, click here.

To read CIPD's 'A Head for Hiring', click here.