Partner Insight: Three ways to encourage social mobility at a graduate level

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Partner Insight: Three ways to encourage social mobility at a graduate level

How to break down socio-economic barriers to a career in investment management.

Social mobility barriers are not always obvious. That's why it's so important to have an open and honest dialogue around these issues and their impact on access, inclusion, and progression within the investment management sector. "We need leadership to speak openly about social mobility, which should be the foundation of any DE&I programme," says Dan Rudd, Head of External Wholesale UK, Ireland & Middle East at HSBC Global Asset Management.

Supporting the career progression of existing employees is one aspect of this. But addressing social mobility as young people start their careers is also vital to the diversity of the next generation of industry leaders. So here are three ways to ensure your graduate recruitment drives attract candidates from a more varied talent pool.

Widen your horizons

Traditionally, top employers have focussed their graduate recruitment efforts on Russell Group universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham. But these universities are not the natural stamping grounds of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. To reach a wider range of applicants, a better approach is to join the growing number of employers running graduate recruitment fairs and outreach events online. "An inability to attend or host in-person graduate recruitment events has meant going digital, thus allowing employers to reach beyond the universities they usually target," the Social Mobility Foundation said in a recent report.

"We urge employers to capitalise on this moment by using digital platforms to recruit from as wide a group as possible." Where possible, it's also important to have business leaders showing support for candidates from different backgrounds. "The narrative could be music to the ears of those starting their careers," Rudd adds.

Offer online support

Online resources can also be a great leveller when it comes to offering graduate scheme applicants from a variety of backgrounds the same chance of success. Charitable foundation Wellcome, for example, provides tailor-made material and videos to support graduates through the application process - whatever school or university they attended.

Such schemes can help to close the gap between young people from poorer backgrounds and more privileged students who have often received extensive training and advice on how to apply for a job.

Improve work experience accessibility

Informal work experience placements are often awarded to youngsters with contacts within the industry. But offering work experience to employees' friends and relatives only increases your chances of taking on people from similar socio-economic classes. Ways to avoid this include implementing a more stringent approach that opens up placements to all, and offering help with travel costs, which can be a major barrier for young people from poor backgrounds.

You can also widen your talent pool via schemes such as Investment20/20 - an industry-funded initiative designed to promote social mobility within investment management.

Its focus on ‘hiring for potential rather than polish' has helped more than 2,000 young aspiring professionals start their careers in the industry, 85% of whom are from a state school, and 43% of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Four of those individuals started at HSBC Global Asset Management in December 2021 as part of the company's new UK Apprenticeship programme.

This article is part of a series of articles on diversity and inclusion, produced by Investment Week in association with HSBC Global Asset Management. You can find the full series on a dedicated hub here.

This post is sponsored by HSBC Asset Management.

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