Social mobility in the UK is currently at its lowest ebb in 50 years, and compared with other countries, the most disadvantaged are less likely to climb the income ladder and the economically advantaged tend to stay at the top in the UK. Covid-19 has increased inequality further as well as recent rises in inflation, especially with energy costs – the problem is intensifying. So, the question is, is there more hospitality businesses can do to tackle this issue whilst simultaneously fixing the talent crisis? Is it time for industry change?
On Wednesday 21st of June, Compass Group UK & Ireland hosted over 100 clients and stakeholders to discuss the importance of enabling social mobility. This event marked a one-year anniversary of their “Social Promise”, which is a commitment to positively impact 1 million lives by 2030. Held at Chelsea Football Club, the UK’s largest food service provider brought together leaders in the social mobility space. Compass Group has grown its partnerships as they actively look to help those from disadvantaged or hard to reach groups into employment. These partnerships include Springboard, WestLea, Key4Life, Ambitious about Autism and The Oaks Specialist College. They have seen 1000 people now on “career pathways”- and over 600 apprentices and over 100 employees become mentors.
We must ask ourselves to what extent can the corporate world play a positive part in improving social mobility and inequality in the country. The corporate world can choose who to hire, who they decide to train, what safety nets they give people in terms of pay, healthcare, pensions, other benefits – so do we have a responsibility as businesses to tackle social mobility? Should we all be doing more?
This is not an overnight fix; it will take a large force of businesses to make long-lasting changes. Education too plays a part for children and young people in enhancing social mobility within society, but we must accept this is not the only route. Has education ever acted as a great social leveller historically? ESG has become a very current discussion within organisations; but do ESG funds focus more on the ‘E’ than we focus on the social impact element?
After all, human talent comes in many forms and with the recruitment of talented people being an industry struggle as well as retention, we must view this as a great opportunity as well as questioning if we are tapping into all available talent pools across the UK and whether we are preventing businesses reaching their full potential. Is now the time for change? Could the hospitality industry together be a force for good, that can tackle social mobility whilst single-handedly improving business?