Ten law firms are among over 100 businesses to sign up to the Government’s Business Compact on social mobility, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today.
Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds, Hogan Lovells, Irwin Mitchell, Norton Rose and Simmons & Simmons have all signed up to the compact. The compact, which partners businesses across the UK with the Government, aims to open up recruitment to people from all social backgrounds.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister it represents “an important step towards a society where it’s what you know, not who you know, that counts”.
Commenting on his firm’s involvement in the scheme, Baker & McKenzie partner Steve Holmes said: “Baker & McKenzie is committed to social mobility. We want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to reach out and encourage people from non-traditional backgrounds to consider a career in law as well as ensure that recruitment is a level playing field and individuals have the same opportunities here once they join. “
Addleshaw Goddard senior partner Monica Burch agreed, saying that “all young people need is talent, focus, ambition and the desire to work hard and fulfil their potential”.
She added: “The lack of social mobility in our society is not a problem that can be solved by any one organisation or any one sector, but everyone in Addleshaw Goddard is determined to do as much as we can to show young people that a privileged upbringing is not a prerequisite to becoming a lawyer.”
The list of signatories includes the Bar Council and the Legal Services Board, as well as high-profile banks such as Barclays and HSBC and retailers such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, and Morrisons. The compact forms a key part of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Social Mobility Strategy, which was launched in April last year.
By signing the compact, the firms agree to the following conditions:
– Support communities and schools to raise aspirations through, for example, reading and mentoring schemes or encouraging their staff to go out to schools and inspire pupils about their careers.
– Open opportunities to all young people by advertising their work experience places through schools, online and in other public forums, rather than just giving places to informal contacts.
– Make access to internships open and transparent, with financial support such as providing expenses or accommodation, or by treating the internship as a job that can be paid under National Minimum Wage law.
– Recruit fairly and without discrimination, using application forms that don’t allow candidates to be screened out because they went to the wrong school or come from a different ethnic group (including through using name-blank and school-blank applications where appropriate)
The Deputy Prime Minister has also announced plans to contact a further 50 of the UK’s leading businesses to ask them to sign up to the compact.