Knowledge Centre

Don’t look at grades and universities, social mobility tsar tells firms

Written By - Joshua Watts - February 05,2020

Law firms should remove the names, grades and universities of candidates from application forms in order to tackle the UK’s ‘stagnant social mobility’, a former cabinet minister has said. 
Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation and a minister in the Blair administration, has urged employers to overhaul their recruitment systems, claiming people from working class backgrounds are being locked out of professional careers. 
According to research by the Social Mobility Foundation, eight in 10 people hired by law firms attended Russell Group universities, even when in some cases only half of the applicants went to those institutions. 
Milburn has started a campaign called ‘CVs Aren’t Working’, asking employers to remove applicants’ names, universities, and/or grades from application forms; to make interview panelists diverse in socioeconomic background; to ensure that work experience placements have formal recruitment processes; and to check that internal culture is inclusive of people from different walks of life. 
The campaign will be circulated around the key employer districts in London.
Milburn said: ‘How employers recruit is exacerbating the UK’s social mobility problem. By overly focusing on a small number of selective universities and fee-paying schools they are locking out talent. CVs are a big part of the problem.
‘By taking practical steps to revise how they recruit, employers can open their doors to a far wider pool of potential. They should trial removing names, universities, schools and grades to ensure they’re judging potential rather than simply past academic performance and social polish. That way employers can help themselves and help address the UK’s stagnant social mobility.’
The legal profession dominates the Social Mobility Employer Index, a league table published by the Social Mobility Foundation which looks at the measures employers are taking to access and progress talent from all backgrounds.