Image: Taylor Nicole / Unsplash
Image: Taylor Nicole / Unsplash

Less employers are taking their applicants’ alma maters into consideration

The Social Mobility Employer Index (SMEI) created by the Social Mobility Foundation found that a growing number of British employers do not consider the alma mater of prospective workers that is listed in their applications.

The SMEI is sponsored by the City of London Corporation, and has ranked organisations such as KPMG, Grant Thornton, and the Ministry of Justice in the top 50 best-performing employers for boosting diversity.

This year, one in five recruiters that participated in the SMEI said that they removed the names of applicants’ universities to avoid premature decisions. The 100 recruiters that participated collectively employ one million people every year.

Employers also took other measures to avoid screening the applicants’ universities. 42% assess their recruitment process to scout those from lower socio-economic groups. 27% take into account candidates’ grades in context with the academic performance of their alma maters.

56% of participants in the SMEI visited Russell Group universities this year, compared to 70% last year. Oxford and Cambridge universities were visited by 110 employers combined in 2017, which was 35 more than that of this year. To diversify the pool of undergraduates they recruit from, employers visited Birmingham and Warwick universities more than Oxford.

Law firms have not made such changes, and continue to use the old system of recruitment which examines candidates’ higher education record. Four in five employees hired by law firms studied in Russell Group institutions.

In some companies, 90% of employees were from Russell Group universities, although only 50% of the applicants studied in those institutions. For professional services firms, three in five employees were chosen from Russell Group universities, and one in two for government departments and agencies.

The Social Mobility Employers Index celebrates those businesses that are tearing down barriers to opportunity and tapping into the rich pool of talent that exists across our country

– Damian Hinds

Regarding the Index, Sir Nick Clegg, Chairman of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “Improving social mobility across society is a collective endeavour – with government, schools, colleges, universities, families and businesses all pulling in the same direction.

“This year’s Index shows that there is a growing appetite for employers to play their part – I warmly congratulate all those who did so, and I hope they will be joined by more employers in next year’s Index.”

Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, commented on the diversity of this year’s results: “I want Britain to be a country that works for everyone, with the same opportunities available for all, regardless of background or circumstance.

“Education is key to ensuring people have the knowledge and the skills they need to make the most of their potential. This government is improving education for every child by raising standards in schools and we have seen the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers narrow by 10% in both primary and secondary school.

“We’re also improving the careers advice available to young people so they can choose the right job for them, reforming apprenticeships and technical education to give young people genuine choice and more opportunities to succeed in later life.

“Employers are also a vital part of this mission and the Social Mobility Employers Index celebrates those businesses that are tearing down barriers to opportunity and tapping into the rich pool of talent that exists across our country.”

He concluded that employers should follow the footsteps of organisations that topped the SMEI, and improve their recruitment practices accordingly.

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