Diversity and Inclusion 2020

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D I V E R S I T Y & I N C L U S I O N 2 Why we need to prioritise social mobility Why is social mobility often the last thing people think about when it comes to diversity and inclusion? reg Dyke, former head of the BBC, once famously referred to the corpo- ration as "hideously white" and over the past two decades the label of "pale, male and stale" has been regularly applied to UK institutions and businesses. Fortunately, many in the corporate world have taken significant proactive steps to redress the balance and yet the thorny issue of social mobility has, in regard to diversity and inclusion (D&I), been something of a poor relation, often overlooked and disregarded. In 2019, the Social Mobility Commission reported that, over the past five years, social mobility in the UK had virtually stagnated and may have regressed, putting the UK's progress behind only the United States and Italy as the worst in the developed world. But while the situation may seem bleak, some progress is being made. Organisations dedicated to improving opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds are beginning to make a difference and to engage successfully with business to help create a diverse workforce in an inclusive workplace based on diverse talent rather than privilege. One such organisation is Making the Leap, a London-based organisation ded- icated to improving the life chances of socio-economically disadvantaged work- ing-class young people. Founder and chief executive Tunde Banjoko highlights factors which may have overlooked. He points out that unlike sex, physical disabil- ity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic diver- sity and marital status, social background is not a protected characteristic, resulting in there being no obligation on business to tackle a problem which is difficult to measure. Banjoko maintains that socio-economic background is the most important charac- teristic to look at when assessing the likeli- hood of an individual's future success and, while acknowledging there remains much to be done, is quick to congratulate those businesses that are now beginning to gather socio-economic data among their workforce. No business wants to limit its talent pool and many are now starting to realise that pos- itive policies surrounding recruitment and employee engagement in respect of back- ground increase their chances of recruiting and maintaining the brightest and best. Brixton Finishing School is an organisa- tion set up to drive diversity and social mobil- ity by offering free training for young peo- ple keen to work in the creative industries. Founder Ally Owen believes the structure of society presents its own specific challenges. Owen points out that British society has historically been structured to benefit cer- tain "in" groups of people and to disadvan- tage others. These others, which Owen refers to as the "out" groups, include those excluded by race, gender, accent, physical ability, neu- rodiversity and, of course, class. She continues: "Class is a huge factor in limiting talented individuals from breaking through to 'elite industries'. We tell ourselves that education is the key to social mobility and advancement. This is partly a myth and one that protects our system from change to a more inclusive structure." Owen references work by Dr Sam Freid- man at the London School of Economics, which shows that those at Russell Group universities from a privileged background who achieve a second-class degree are much date who shares our same race or gender, or who went to the same school, speaks the same language or reminds us of our younger selves. As the majority type within elite professions is white, public-school educated, and in sen- ior positions male, this leads to a systemic favouring of this "in-group" type. Another myth is that young people from certain backgrounds lack aspiration. This myth protects the structures that favour "in" groups from change by placing responsibility for the social mobility barriers on those who are trying to progress rather than those who have the power to change the systemic issues that keep them from doing so. Owen says: "It's privilege gaslighting. If you aren't part of the group that is in charge, you can't change things. It is not a level playing field. It does not matter how hard you work or how talented you are, if you are from a less privileged background, your race to success will be longer, harder and more likely to fail." There is, however, room for optimism. Organisations like the Brixton Finishing School and Making the Leap are achieving measurable success, while recruitment com- panies specialising in social mobility, such as Rare Recruitment, are making real inroads into the highest echelons of the corporate world, boasting top law firms and corporate services companies among their clients. Unconscious bias, that most insidious of prejudices, is being acknowledged and addressed, and an increasing number of D&I mission statements are conceding much more needs to be done to spread opportunity more widely. Similarly, switched-on corporates with a commitment to diversity have the oppor- tunity to be rewarded for creating an inclu- sive culture and improving social mobil- ity within their organisations. The roll call of winners at the UK Social Mobility Awards includes leading employers from both the private and public sectors, while the long-established European Diversity Awards added a Social Mobility Initiative of the Year award in 2017, attracting entrants from across the continent. While doling out gongs at a black-tie event may not speak directly to the disadvantaged, it does at least send the message that social mobility matters. lades only to be dismissed from the race at labour-market entry. This creates pools of highly qualified underutilised talent from a range of 'out' groups." Affinity bias is one of the causes of this anomaly; having a more favourable opinion of someone like us is common. In hiring, this often means referring or selecting a candi- more likely to end up in elite professions than contemporaries from less privileged beginnings who went to the same university and bagged a first. "Dr Freidman's point is a depressing indict- ment of what our labour market is reward- ing which, by the nature of this anomaly, is not the same as what our education system is rewarding. This 'busts' some of the myths around how education can be a ticket to social mobility," she says. "An individual from a group looking for social mobility can succeed and outpace those from a privileged background by jumping through all the academic achieve- ment hoops we set them and win acco- G Rob Harkavy It's privilege gaslighting. If you aren't part of the group that is in charge, you can't change things. It is not a level playing field OCCUPATION CATEGORIES OF UK P OPUL ATION, BY BACKGROUND Percentage of white and ethnic minority individuals from different backgrounds in each occupation S O C I A L M O B I L I T Y Commercial feature Commercial feature Women flying high in engineering Breaking down stereotypes is elevating for diversity and inclusion at work, and can help women achieve in male-dominated roles iversity and inclusion are increas- ingly important for any company to grow and evolve with society, attract a broad pool of talent and improve its competitiveness. Leonardo, an aerospace technology com- pany, is no exception. The company has been adapting its approach to the issue over the years. Leonardo hired a head of diversity and inclusion in 2018 to tackle everything from wellbeing at work to making sure the firm raises its number of women employees from 17 to more than 30 per cent across the UK business by 2025. A big part of Leonardo's programme relates to recruitment, tapping into a diverse range of backgrounds and education, and allowing people to enter the workforce in non-tradi- tional ways. This includes Leonardo's modern apprentice scheme. Jordanne Currie, who is now a STEM (sci- ence, technology, engineering and maths) ambassador for the company, decided to skip university and enter the apprenticeship scheme in August 2015 after hearing about it from a family member. She rotated into a dif - ferent department every three months, from mechanical engineering to quality and test- ing, and currently works on the surveillance radar for the Norwegian Coast Guard's AW101 all-weather search and rescue helicopter. "I have a personal development plan that takes me to an engineering management role within five years, when I'll be 27," says Currie, from the company's Edinburgh office. "I am also fortunate enough to be studying engi - neering with management at university one day a week. I may have started my degree later than some of my friends, but when I graduate I'll already have a job and seven years of work experience under my belt." Leonardo pledges that women should make up at least 30 per cent of candidates sourced and shortlisted, as well as between 30 to 50 per cent when it comes to succession plans and promotion. The company is also setting up a bursary scheme, which aims for at least half the student intake to be women; this apprenticeship programme is depend- ent on candidates' exam results. The 2019 research carried out by Leonardo, which included engaging with more than 1,000 UK staff and a cross-sec- tor working group, has not only helped the company understand the barriers to a more inclusive workplace and diverse workforce, but also to change the language used to attract new candidates. The concept of what is inherently "male" and "female" comes with changing atti- tudes. Erin Mansell joined the firm in 2000, building gear boxes as an apprentice, and now manages the production line for the British Armed Forces' AW159 Wildcat heli- copters in Yeovil. "From a young age, I was very practical with my hands, helping my dad on his wood-turn- ing lathe. I was into non-traditional or pre- supposed 'male' toys such as Scalextric. I loved LEGO and Meccano and still do," she says. "I still get a real buzz when I see the Wildcat flying overhead and pointing the hel- icopter out to my children: my seven-year- old daughter can determine which helicop- ter is which now." As any company knows, diversity cannot be achieved overnight, especially for one of the largest defence contractors in the world with almost 200 sites worldwide. But Leonardo has come some way. When Fiona Clark, operational electronic warfare capability lead, came to Leonardo as a graduate in the 1980s with a maths degree, she was one of two women in a class of 80. In the 1990s, the company introduced what she describes as a "fantastic" work-life bal- ance policy, allowing her and her male col- leagues to work part time and take care of their children. "After university I had an interview at a bank. It went well, but they said, 'We won't offer you the job as in five years you'll have left to have babies, so we won't invest in you'. I'd love to go back to them now and say, 'Look, I've been at Leonardo for 35 years'." Based in Luton, she runs internal courses for new and established staff at Leonardo, and appreciates the different points of view diversity of staff brings. She also does outreach in schools to demonstrate that engineering is not, as she calls it, "male, pale and stale". "When you go into schools and speak to 13 year olds, they often think engineering is fixing washing machines in overalls with dirty fingernails and they don't see the exciting creativity of our industry. That is an outside perception we are trying to change." For more information please visit uk.leonardocompany.com D I have a personal development plan that takes me to an engineering management role within five years, when I'll be 27 Professional/ managerial occupation Intermediate occupation Working-class occupation White from a professional/ managerial background Ethnic minority from a professional/ managerial background White from a working-class background Ethnic minority from a working- class background Not working Social Mobility Commission 2019 63% 17% 17% 3% 35% 19% 39% 7% 56% 22% 15% 7% 33% 24% 31% 12% Brixton Finishing School students Trae, Freena, Craig and Ellie at the School of Communication Arts Brixton Finishing School www.sightandsound.co.uk info @ sightandsound.co.uk 01604 798070 Why not contact us today? Inclusive solutions, empowering independence With 1 in 10 people with dyslexia and over 2 million people with low vision in the UK, it is vital that Diversity and Inclusion are at the core of every business related decision you make. With over 40 years' experience supporting people with disabilities, Sight and Sound Technology are your go-to company for using technology to meet your Diversity and Inclusion goals.

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