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Held accountable

17 September, 2021

How can we make our company more diverse and inclusive?

It’s a question on many company directors’ lips, and for good reason. As well as giving companies access to a wider range of perspectives, research confirms that diversity targets also make them more welcoming, effective, and profitable.

While lots of large UK companies have diversity targets related to gender and ethnicity, social class has been conspicuously absent from diversity and inclusion strategies. This is strange given how much socioeconomic background impacts life chances. Now, KMPG has become the first large UK business to set a target for socioeconomic diversity in the workplace, aiming for 29 percent of its partners and directors to come from working class backgrounds by 2030.

But how is “working class” being defined? KMPG is relying on parental occupation, a tried and tested measure that is also used by the UK government. While asking employees what the main earner in their household did when they were 14 is not a perfect solution, it’s no less verifiable than work experience written on a CV.

Targets like this are great, but only if they are supported by culture change initiatives. KPMG is providing mandatory training to all employees on the invisible barriers faced by people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which is a great start, but sustained and resourced culture change is vital to make sure that the people recruited through this initiative stay once hired.

As well as boosting existing diversity drives (people from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds), these policies are important because they encourage us to focus on social mobility. In our opinion, KMPG’s efforts should not only be applauded – they should be emulated.

By Miriam Shovel

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