The professions and social mobility – by ACCA’s Sarah Hathaway

Anthony Haynes writes: As regular readers will know, one focus of this blog is issues of talent acquisition and management for membership organisations. And we like to host guest posts. This week we’re delighted to combine those two interests by publishing a post by Sarah Hathaway, Head of ACCA UK.

sh-01Sarah Hathaway writes: Few people in British society would say they don’t think improving social mobility is a worthy aim. When ACCA ( recently asked our members that question, 64% said it was very important to them. But why did we ask?

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has put social mobility high on the political agenda. The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCP) is ensuring it stays there.

Access to the professions is very much part of the SMCP agenda, and rightly so. Many professions are still perceived as elitist, dominated by a privileged few. Even though some professions have routes to qualification or membership open to all, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are still not seeing that the professions are for them.

Many businesses now buy into the case for diverse talent at all levels of the organisation. Effort is going into recruitment and retention practices that support this. New routes into the professions are being opened up by the institutes and bodes representing them, the obvious one being new apprenticeships.

As a professional body, ACCA firmly believes in transparency and accountability. This is why we’ve just conducted our third survey of our students and members, asking questions based on Professions for Good’s social mobility toolkit and our report based on the findings will be published in October.

This year, we went further than the core questions: we asked about access to work experience and the living wage, among other things. What we now have is a snapshot of the background of our members when they entered their profession and where they feel they are now.

On the basis of this evidence, we’re proud of the opportunities we offer – and yet still recognise we have more to do. The evidence also gives us the credibility to call for policy changes and additional support from government.

We’re also proud to be a founding member of Access to the Professions – look out for Professions Week in the UK from 10 November 2015, a key initiative in reaching out to young people from all backgrounds and educating them on the opportunities a professional career can offer.

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