The most advantaged students are six times more likely to enter a highly selective university than the most disadvantaged. Can that be right?
When compared to other developed countries in the world, the two lowest ranking countries for social mobility are the UK and the US. Can that be right?
I believe the answer to these questions is an emphatic no.
The good news is that within the accountancy profession we are starting to address this inequality. I am proud to be a trustee of Access Accountancy, a charity that has been set up with the fantastic assistance of The Sutton Trust to promote social mobility in the accountancy profession.
Uniquely Access Accountancy is a cross firm collaboration. The first trustees meeting was held last week, attended by partners from Blick Rothenberg, EY, PWC, KPMG, BDO, Grant Thornton, NAO, Deloitte and Mazars, all of whom will be trustees.
I found it quite thought provoking that nearly all of the trustees were the first from their respective families to attend University. At least three stated that given their family circumstances at the time, it was likely if they were thinking of going to University today they would be unable to afford to go. This illustrates the importance of encouraging social mobility. As firms we need to attract talent from all backgrounds, not just from the minority.
The key aims of Access Accountancy are as follows:
- To provide annually 3,750, 30 hour work placements to students from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Collecting and monitoring socioeconomic data of applicants and hires on an annual basis
- Generating interest in accountancy by delivering common messages in more target schools and colleges
At Blick Rothenberg we will be providing 3 work placements to students from a disadvantaged background in May; all of whom come from a school in Camden where over 50% of the students have free school meals.
I am also proud that as a firm we push the apprentice route, and we have been excellently rewarded by having such great staff. In the UK, apprentices comprise approximately 1% of the overall workforce. At Blick Rothenberg we average around 3%.
It is vital that there is opportunity for all in our profession and the wider business community. This is an initiative which must succeed.
For further details please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Sanford at email@example.com