Social mobility in 2020: an update

As part of our ongoing focus on social mobility, we look at the impacts of the pandemic on existing and new social mobility challenges, how we're responding, and what businesses can focus on in 2021.

2020 has been a year like no other.

The way we live, work, and connect has changed significantly. The way we do business continues to evolve.

What it means to be a responsible business has been brought into even greater focus; as well as the associated impacts a business can have on employees, clients and customers, and wider communities.

Thinking carefully about how we rebuild our societies and economies in 2021, and beyond, will be crucial; as will prioritising equality, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability. Increased and consistent intervention to improve social mobility across the country needs to be part of that work if we are to make the progress that is needed.

The social mobility challenge is not new – a person’s start in life can significantly affect their chances of fulfilling their potential – but the pandemic has caused swift and significant disruption which will exacerbate existing challenges and create new ones. This is a pivotal point at which businesses need to do more.

That might include:

  • Highlighting links between education and careers from an early age
  • Increasing visibility of professional role models, from all backgrounds
  • Offering employability skills support and making meaningful connections into the workplace
  • Reducing inequalities in digital access
  • Prioritising wellbeing for all.

An update on our action plan

This year, we have been looking in detail at what improving social mobility means for Shoosmiths. We were originally due to launch our new Social Mobility Action Plan back in March, but in COVID-19 circumstances, moved to a virtual launch in October.

The Action Plan brings together the firm’s longstanding commitment to social mobility with socio-economic data from the Social Mobility Pledge, and recommended actions for our local offices.

You can read our action plan in full here.

We’ve already started work on some exciting new strategic projects and employee volunteering opportunities which will help to deliver on these action points; for example, in Manchester, we are proud to be supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee, and the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Youth Taskforce.

We’re also looking forward to sharing a work in progress report in 2021 (as well as continuing to partner with the team at the Social Mobility Pledge).

Benchmarking progress

One of the tools that is most useful in developing our approach to social mobility is the annual Social Mobility Employer Index, which we encourage other employers to participate in. Submissions are assessed across key areas and look holistically across the organisation; work with young people, routes into the employer, talent attraction, recruitment, and selection, data collection, progression, experienced hires, and advocacy.

This year we were once again ranked a Top 75 employer – 38th up from 48th last year – with 119 employers from 17 sectors taking part. In the new year, we will be looking at our feedback to identify areas for further improvement.

Future insights

We will continue to share the lessons we’re learning about what businesses can do to most effectively champion social mobility and improve their practices.

Insights this year have included our thoughts on how data can be used to make more meaningful progress, both locally and nationally, and best practices for employers (such as this article, ‘More than grades…’, in response to the disruption to exams and subsequent issues with the marking process).

To find out more about our approach to social mobility, visit the Social Mobility at Shoosmiths page on our website. 


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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