Every month we like to share a recommendation from one of our ambassadors: something that inspires them in their responsible business work. This month we spoke to Talia Chirouf, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Assistant Manager at Hogan Lovells, who’s talking about social mobility.
“It’s National Inclusion Week, a chance to take stock of our inclusion efforts and encourage others to pause and reflect on what feeling a sense of belonging truly means in the workplace and how to support colleagues from underrepresented groups to do so. This year’s theme is #ThePowerOfNow, and its goal is to empower everyone to take real and persistent action to drive inclusion – to move the burden away from those who have lived experiences and are so often ‘doing the D&I work’.
One area I feel particularly strongly about raising awareness around is social mobility. Social mobility is defined by the Social Mobility Commission as ‘the link between a person’s occupation or income and the occupation or income of their parents. In other words, it’s about ensuring your background doesn’t determine your future’.
In D&I terms, social mobility has been described as the golden thread (or as one of our social mobility working group members suggested more appropriately – the twine) that runs through all other diversity characteristics. Without understanding the role background has in entry and progression in organisations, we are missing a key piece of the puzzle both in understanding how other diversity characteristics intersect, and the steps that need to be taken to unlock truly inclusive cultures.
In the legal industry we are lucky to have some solid research and data on the topic, though these resources are useful for wider professional and financial services organisations.
Alongside a number of other law firms, we worked with The Bridge Group to look at the relationship between socio-economic background and early career progression in the law. One of the key findings was that those from lower socio-economic performers were more likely to be the highest performers in their firms, compared to their more advantaged peers – but less likely to progress and more likely to leave early in their career. Follow up research on the other end of the pipeline, exploring socio-economic diversity and progression to partner in the law, found that those from lower-socio-economic backgrounds take a year and a half longer to reach partner than their colleagues from higher socio-economic backgrounds.
Unpicking the barriers those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are up against in certain industries is much more complicated and opaque than other areas of diversity – but absolutely worth the work.
You may already be doing work to drive social diversity within your organisations, or perhaps you’re at the beginning of the journey. Here are some of the other resources I’ve found particularly useful:
- Social Mobility Commission Employer Toolkits
- State of the Nation Report 2022
- Building the Baseline: Breaking the Class Barrier Report
- Social Mobility Pledge
Whatever your plans are this National Inclusion Week – don’t forget about the role social background plays in driving inclusive cultures, and seek out opportunities to have conversations or organise activity within your own workplaces on the topic.”
Talia Chirouf works on delivering Hogan Lovells’ D&I strategy in the UK. Prior to entering the legal sector, she worked for charities supporting young people in their early careers to develop employment and soft skills, as well as securing work experience. Making the move into diversity & inclusion has allowed her to focus on retention, progression and inclusion of those from underrepresented backgrounds. Before joining Hogan Lovells she lived and worked in Paris for three years, to learn French and experience a new culture.