November 23, 2022

What a ride it’s been in our ‘The Get Optimal View’ series, bringing you the minds of the advisors and the people who make Optimal tick. We’ve got lots of blogs still in us…and that’s because we’ve got lots of mates! Or believers, or whatever you want to call them.

Our previous blogs included The Great Return by Joe Slavin, How Optimal’s AI frees up time for the best bits of the job by Gary Elden, Torin Ellis on the DEIB journey employees want, Dave Rees on how Optimal’s solution Destroys Dyslexia, hallucinatory musings on HR Tech Vegas by William Tincup, how Ashlie Collins helps us with RQ and Janine Owen asking the big question - why should I even care about Diversity?

Our eighth thought pieces take on social mobility, with Pete Healey taking us through exactly how it intersects with talent attraction.

Here’s Pete!

Social Mobility

Pete Healey - CEO eFinancialCareers

Social attitudes have evolved considerably in the past five years. The MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter illuminated the importance of gender, racial equity, and inclusion in society and organisations.  At eFinancialCareers, the sector we support, financial services, has invested in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) for many years.  Thanks to a justifiably poor reputation in this area, financial services firms have been pushed to act.  I noticed this difference when I moved from financial services to the generic tech recruiting space in 2016.  With a bigger historical problem, finance has had to make bigger efforts to address the issue. Improvements have been made, but there’s still a long way to go.  

The more that diversity is addressed, the more the issue's complexity becomes apparent. While most attention has been paid to gender and ethnicity, new dimensions like neurodiversity and the intersectionality from interacting disadvantages are being considered by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as it compiles rules on diversity for financial services companies.

One area that FCA emphasises is socioeconomic diversity. When I look at talent attraction and retention strategies, this is an area that I need to pay attention to. Only 10% of British people from working-class backgrounds attain high-status jobs.  In the US, research from HBR found that workers from lower social classes were 32% less likely to become managers than those from higher classes.  This discrepancy was significantly greater than gender at 27% or race at 25%.

In the UK, public spending cuts have worsened the situation for those from less privileged backgrounds. The impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis has compounded those spending cuts. There’s a lost generation of children without access to opportunity.

Understanding the problem requires an appreciation of its pervasiveness. It’s common to consider that inner-city young people face the most significant challenges, but access to opportunity for those in deprived rural areas or small towns is even less than for those in deprived inner-city areas.

Other than ‘it’s the right thing to do’, why should businesses care?  Socio-economic equity and inclusion matter to society, so businesses will see the knock-on impacts, but there is a more direct opportunity. Research has shown managers from lower socio-economic groups have greater empathy; employees previously in the US military are less self-centred than their more privileged peers.

The intersectional nature of disadvantage means that addressing socioeconomic diversity will impact other areas, too: ethnic minorities are more likely to be socioeconomically deprived, as are candidates with a disability, for example.  

So what can you do to help make a difference?  

  1. Set up a work experience programme to provide 100% remote work experience. When applying for university places or seeking work, young people from more affluent backgrounds have a huge advantage with greater access to work experience opportunities. They not only have the contacts to make it happen, but they can also afford the travel and subsistence to make it work. Of course, a hybrid or in-person experience will allow for a richer development opportunity, but getting your company’s name on their CV or application form will make a huge difference.  

  1. Identify your own role models or champions – this doesn’t need to be a 32-year-old that made it to Managing Director.  Too often, businesses are looking for the ultimate role model. All you need is someone who’s made it into your business and is productive.  This is someone prospective employees, interns or work experience candidates can identify with.  

How can your role models become involved in recruitment processes?  Or once onboarded, what access are you giving to your interns, placement or work experience students to these individuals?

  1. Identify partnerships to help improve your access to those that need your support.  eFinancialCareers partners with The Sutton Trust, an amazing organisation that supports young people from the top 15% academically but from the lowest 40% socio-economic background.  90% of their alums go from the lowest to the highest socio-economic group post-university.  

Other organisations worth looking at are :

  1. Adjust your expectations – If you’re going to make a difference, you need to expect that young people you’re attempting to bring into your work environment from a disadvantaged background may not be as polished as their advantaged peers.  Work environment norms may need explaining, and this takes more effort and understanding from your whole organisation to ensure you’re creating a welcoming and inclusive space where they can thrive.

The exciting thing is that whilst there are significant challenges in the area of social mobility, today, we have more tools at our disposal and far greater awareness than ever to help tackle it within the business. In attempting to address this topic within your own business, I am sure you will find a significant number of your team who will be passionate about helping you get things done to make a difference.  


Pete Healey

CEO: eFinancial Careers

About Get-Optimal

Work with us at Optimal, and your response rate for open positions will soar by a minimum of 24%. Let our AI choose the most readable parts of your job ads to display, and you’ll save the precious time you would have spent combing through old or plagiarised job ads to ensure you’re conveying the correct image in the new world of attracting suitable and diverse candidates. No longer will applicants be put off by the vacancy or how it’s been advertised. Optimise once and post in multiple places - your new ad is in a downloadable, editable form to drop into whichever job board or multi-poster you like!

We are also integrated with Bullhorn and Salesforce. We ensure your ad is Diversity & Inclusion compliant, meaning you’ll be the top choice commercially and win business over other, less enlightened competitors.

Ready to join forces? Why not book your demo today and get started with Get-Optimal?