Trio of accountancy firms scoop social mobility gongs

KPMG and EY join Accountancy Age top five player Grant Thornton as three of 11 companies to achieve Social Mobility Business Compact Champion status, announced by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

The government standard recognises employers who are leading the way in opening up the world of work to young people from all backgrounds, setting an example to others, and helping to increase the pace of change to improve social mobility.

KPMG was recognised as one of the first businesses to pay the voluntary Living Wage in 2005 and for its active role to encourage other business leaders to follow suit.  The firm has also been involved in the development of Access Accountancy, a scheme that encourages non-traditional applicants into the profession and remains a key supporter of inner city school, The City Academy in Hackney, which it has supported since its inception.

Melanie Richards, vice chairman at KPMG, said: “Improving social mobility is fundamentally good for business and is one of the key tenets of KPMG’s commercial strategy. By widening access to the profession we will attract the best talent from a wide mix of backgrounds, helping us to better advise our clients.

“KPMG has been committed to improving social mobility for over a decade and we will continue to work with our fellow business leaders, the communities we operate in and government in order to lead change and drive this agenda forward.”


To achieve champion status, employers must meet a set of criteria, including: demonstrating how they are supporting their local communities and schools, providing opportunities for all young people to get a foot on the jobs ladder, and recruiting openly and fairly.

Skills minister, Nick Boles, said: “The Social Mobility Champions have risen to the challenge set by government and shown genuine commitment to bring about positive change. They have gone beyond just volunteering in schools or changing the way they advertise jobs; they have made social mobility a core part of their corporate strategy. I hope this will inspire other businesses to follow suit.”

In August 2015, EY transformed its student recruitment process by removing the academic entry criteria for applications to the school leaver, undergraduate and graduate programmes. The firm has since seen a 49% increase in applications, with 15% of applicants progressing through to assessment level that would not have been eligible to apply under the previous system.

Mandy Love, EY partner, commented: “Achieving Social Mobility Champion status is testament to the strides we have made in creating a working environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

“It is a commercial imperative for our business to recruit and retain talented individuals from all walks of life. Different opinions and perspectives help to provide our clients with an exceptional level of service.

“We are opening up access to the profession by removing barriers to entry, such as academic criteria, and creating more routes into the firm, to suit young people.”

EY recently announced it was opening 200 apprenticeships from September 2016 to school leavers across the country, supporting the government’s ambition to create three million apprenticeships.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton, said: “We know that creating a diverse workforce is central to building a vibrant economy in which people and businesses can thrive. This award is a fantastic celebration of all those recognised and shows how by working together to share ideas and resources we can make an even bigger impact

“Tackling this agenda is important not only for our firm, but for the future of the UK economy. Recent research from CEBR shows that if we used apprenticeships and social mobility measures to fill all vacancies that arise due to skills shortages, by 2025 the extra output in the economy would be £8.5bn a year.”


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