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Careers Guide

Improving social mobility through recruitment 

Early Careers teams are some of the best equipped to make long-lasting change in an organisation's culture. How you might ask? The answer lies in student recruitment. 

Take law for example. Recent reporting on eight leading UK firms has given some compelling results. The research found that 14% of state schooled lawyers got the best performance rating at work compared to 8% of those who were privately schooled. And lawyers whose parents didn’t go to university equally received higher ratings than their university educated counterparts. 

Social mobility

It’s sometimes easy to overlook what happens to individuals, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, once they start out in a post. But data is beginning to help us to visualise and understand the tangible opportunity, not only for young people, but for student recruitment teams, when they work together to meet the challenge of diversity. 

As quoted by Tim Smith, partner at BCLP, “this research has given us tangible proof – if it were needed – that there is also an economic reason for law firms to get this right, to stop the migration of their top talent”.

Here at Uptree, we celebrate this sort of news, and not only in the field of law.

Celebrate diverse talent

Across all industries and skills-shortages, we have always believed that talent does exist, yet too often than not, it’s the barriers to entry that remain too high for many students dreaming of entering such roles.  

But despite significant progress, there’s still work to be done. Take the privately educated, who continue to disproportionately achieve in top jobs in law, the media and areas such as politics. So the challenge around social mobility - and its links to our early recruitment practices - are still very much present in the everyday and particularly when considering our wider society. 

Issues such as imposter syndrome, deep-rooted cultural assumptions, subconscious bias and unequal access to business opportunities, continue to work against many organisations and individuals as they strive towards social mobility goals. 

The good news

We believe that great student recruitment practices are key to addressing this disconnect.

To summarise with all things considered, we have put together some guidance and tips that will continue to make your student recruitment teams the real winners in the context of social mobility: 

  1. It’s time to check your current hiring data. How diverse are the schools and universities that your company has hired from? If you’re looking at a list of Russell Group universities and privately-funded schools, it could be worth having a re-think. Uptree can really help with this issue by providing a wide pool of diverse, young talent.

  2. Start early and increase the range of schools you target. It’s statistically proven that young people who meet with four or more business professionals before they leave school are five times more employable.

  3. Track what happens to your hires as they work their way up through your organisation. Where are they ending up? Are people dropping-out? Why is this? All of these sorts of questions can start to challenge your company’s status quo for the better.

  4. Whilst working remotely, making an offer to a young person is only the first step. Real social mobility winners think about tech access, and equal opportunity for hires when it comes to the internet and environment. Offering a budget for office supplies or a mentor for the first few months are all ways to improve retention and to close the social mobility gap.

  5. If you have success stories, celebrate them! Successful candidates make great role models and a loop-around induction process can be rewarding for everybody involved. Online work experience days and Q&A panels are a great way of doing this, especially whilst we work remotely.  

Uptree is proud to partner with companies who deliver outstanding work in supporting student outcomes across different socio-economic backgrounds.

If you’d like to join us, or wish to chat to us more about our growing student network, then please get in touch via