PwC named top 10 employer for social mobility

Jul 11, 2018

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PwC has today been ranked as one of the Top 10 employers in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2018.

The top 50 UK employers who have taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace are announced today in what is believed to be the world’s only Social Mobility Employer Index.

PwC has been ranked sixth in the Index for the commendable work it has taken to enable those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to succeed. PwC was particularly recognised for the breadth of its recruitment and attraction programmes, its new technology degree apprenticeships, the range of data collected on its people’s social backgrounds, its public reporting on the firm’s progress against its social mobility targets, fairness of its promotion processes and the firm’s community work in social mobility coldspots.

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, said:

“Improving social mobility is one of the UK’s most important challenges and businesses have the ability to make a real difference.

“Social mobility is about making opportunities open to all and it’s encouraging to be recognised for the broad steps we’ve taken to do this across our firm and communities. But there’s  more to be done - we’re committed to ensuring that PwC is a place where everyone can succeed and using our experience to improve opportunities more broadly.

“Some of the steps we’ve taken include doubling the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds on our work experience programmes, working as a Cornerstone employer in Bradford to ensure thousands of school students have meaningful interactions with employers, working with over 250 social enterprises and creating fully-funded technology degree apprenticeships with five universities across the UK.”

PwC’s success in the Index will be announced today at a launch event at the City of London Corporation.

The Index is the creation of the Social Mobility Foundation and is published in partnership with sponsors the City of London Corporation. It ranks the UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds. This year it finds having a workforce that is diverse in terms of social background is fast becoming as important to employers as being diverse in terms of gender and race.

Research has consistently shown that people from more affluent backgrounds take a disproportionate number of the best jobs and that employers tend to disproportionately employ graduates who went to private schools and a small number of universities.

The Social Mobility Employer Index is a voluntary and free of charge survey that assesses employers across seven areas, including the work they do with young people, their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower income backgrounds progress within their organisations.

Over 100 employers from 18 sectors, who collectively employ over one million people, entered the 2018 Index. Entrants included banks, law firms, Government departments, engineering firms, retail firms and technology companies.

Over 11,000 people also took part in a voluntary employee survey.

David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“We have been very impressed by the efforts employers are making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all backgrounds. We can really see organisations taking a whole host of actions to try and ensure that they have a diverse workforce in terms of socio-economic background as well as in terms of gender and race; they in turn are benefitting from accessing a much wider talent pool than they have traditionally recruited from. All entrants should be praised for broadening their approach.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said:

“Improving the UK’s social mobility record requires action by employers and the Index is creating a real momentum. Many leading businesses are showing real ambition in their approach to tackling the UK’s social mobility problem and it is important that firms continue to prioritise this area to help remove the barriers holding back the best and brightest in our society.

“Giving young people experience of the work environment and helping them gain skills can boost their career prospects and open up a wide pool of talent for businesses. Everyone has the right to a good career regardless of background and we must remove hurdles for young people who have the talent, but may lack the network of guidance, support and connections to get ahead. They are the future workforce which will make sure that the UK prospers in the long term.”

Sir Nick Clegg, Chairman of Social Mobility Foundation, said:

"I'm delighted that so many organisations chose to participate in the Social Mobility Index this year. Improving social mobility across society is a collective endeavour - with Government, schools, colleges, universities, families and businesses all pulling in the same direction.

This year's Index shows that there is a growing appetite for employers to play their part - I warmly congratulate all those who did so, and I hope they will be joined by more employers in next year's Index."

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, former Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, added:

"There is a mood for change in the nation. As the Index shows, social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country's top employers.  It is welcome that they are stepping up to the plate. They are making these changes both because they see the social need to do so and because they recognise the business benefit that greater diversity can bring.”


Notes to editors

The Top 50 Social Mobility Employer Index 2018 rankings




Grant Thornton UK


Ministry of Justice


Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner








Enterprise Rent-A-Car


Civil Service Fast Stream and Early Talent


 Baker McKenzie


 Linklaters LLP


 J.P. Morgan


 Aviva PLC


 Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC


 Herbert Smith Freehills




 Department for Work & Pensions


 Department for Education


 Freeths LLP


 Severn Trent




 Clifford Chance LLP


 Eversheds Sutherland LLP


 The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple


 Department for International Trade


 Capgemini UK






 Standard Life Aberdeen




 National Grid PLC


 Barts Health NHS Trust


 The Co-op


 HM Treasury


 Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust


 Hogan Lovells International LLP


 Financial Conduct Authority


 DLA Piper


 Penguin Random House UK


 M&G Investments


 Pinsent Masons LLP


 Royal Navy and Royal Marines


 Ministry of Defence




 Slaughter and May


 HM Revenue & Customs


 Mayer Brown International LLP




 Santander UK


 British Land


  1. The Social Mobility Employer Index was developed in consultation with, and following feedback from social mobility experts and major employers. Employers entering the Index did so free of charge and voluntarily. To enter, they had to answer questions about actions they are taking in at least one of the following sections:

  • working with young people - well-evaluated programmes that reach beyond the doorstep of the office to all of the country’s talent, and which provide routes into the employer/profession for those that have the interest and aptitude

  • routes into work - well-structured non-graduate routes that provide genuine parity of esteem and comparable progression to graduate ones

  • attraction - innovative ways of reaching beyond graduates of the usual five to ten universities many top employers focus their efforts on

  • recruitment and selection - evidence that the employer removes hurdles that will disproportionately affect those from lower socio-economic groups and is moving to a system that judges potential rather than past academic performance or polish

  • data collection - rigorous analysis of the profile of the workforce and of measures taken to improve its diversity

  • progression - effective strategies that help those from lower socio-economic groups get on rather than just get in

  • internal/external advocacy - action to get more of their staff involved in efforts to improve social mobility and to get suppliers/peer firms to also take action

  1. The submissions were marked using a strict mark scheme and the list of scores was then benchmarked both within the same sector and across different employment sectors. In targeting sectors that have sometimes been identified as needing to improve their socio-economic diversity, the Index recognises that process often has to be introduced before progress can be made and does not punish employers for starting from a low base, but rather rewards them for taking significant action to improve this. The top 50 are thus those taking the most action on social mobility and not the 50 that are already the most representative of the country at large.
  2. Employers had the option to enter anonymously to receive feedback on their strategies; if they finished in the top 50 they then had the choice of whether to remain anonymous.
  3. This year there was also a voluntary employee survey that employers could participate in, which included 8 questions about the culture of their workplace. 35 employers participated in this and we received 11,359 responses; 5,661 identified themselves as working class and 5,333 as middle class, with 116 identifying themselves as upper class.
  4. 106 employers from 18 different sectors entered the Index in 2018; 38 entered the Index for the first time. Collectively the entrants employ 1.063 million people in the UK.
  5. Both the development of the Index and the benchmarking is supported by an advisory group whose membership has representatives from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, the Bridge Group, Royal Holloway University and Stonewall.
  6. For further information about the Index, please visit

The Social Mobility Foundation

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity which aims to make practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds.

It runs free of charge programmes of mentoring, internships, university application support (including trips to universities and help with personal statements, aptitude tests and interviews) and career and skills workshops to support young people through their sixth-form and university years.

Currently taking on a new cohort of over 1600 young people every year, the SMF has offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle and runs residential programmes for young people from the Isle of Wight to the Western Isles of Scotland across 11 career sectors (Accountancy, Architecture, Banking & Finance, Biology & Chemistry, Business, Engineering & Physics, Law, Media & Communications, Medicine, Politics, and Technology).

The City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

• We employ over 100 apprentices in a diverse range of jobs across the capital, supported by the Apprenticeship Levy

• We sponsor or co-sponsor 10 academies across Hackney, Newham, Islington and Southwark. In 2017, Sutton Trust named the City Corporation as the UK’s best academy sponsor for empowering pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to perform above the national average, and the leading academy sponsor for Progress 8 and Attainment 8, which track pupil progress and achievement.

• We are sponsoring the Social Mobility Employers’ Index to encourage businesses to increase the socio-economic diversity of their workforce

• We support SMEs to make use of the apprenticeship levy to increase diversity and support businesses to access skills

• We deliver a Leaders of Tomorrow programme for future City business leaders to enable them to respond to the social, economic, political, technological challenges that are impacting on trust in business

• We celebrate businesses that are tackling social issues through the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards

• We fund Heart of the City a responsible business network to support SMEs to put the foundations of responsible business practice in place


About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 223,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

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Amy Tiernan
Senior manager, media relations, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)7590 354 329

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