The social mobility crisis and how CAs can help

Glass building
By Bruce Cartwright CA, Chief Executive, ICAS

26 April 2019

A diverse workforce and a focus on social mobility are key, not only to a thriving business, but to a successful society.

Enlightened business leaders recognise that diversity leads to a more innovative and collaborative working environment for their staff, which ultimately benefits their business.

I recently read a report by Deloitte that said more than 90% of leaders believe that the more diverse a board is, the more likely it will be successful at innovating, improving business performance and managing disruption.

Figures on social mobility tell a similar story, with a 2017 study reporting that even minor improvements in social mobility would add around £170bn to the UK economy and give productivity a welcome boost.

But as CAs we know there is more to this than the “bottom line” and applying an ethical lens should be a given.

Why should someone’s social background cause barriers to be thrown up around their career prospects?

What matters is an individual’s potential, talent and their attitude to learning and self-improvement.

Crisis management 

A lack of social mobility has the potential to cause a crisis in the sectors that many CAs hold roles in.

A recent study by KPMG put into perspective the consequences a lack of social mobility will have on the financial services sector.

More than 40% of FS workers had parents who worked in the same industry. Although there are many good reasons as to why this may be, the report points out that a lack of social mobility has led to a “narrow and narrowing talent pool” within FS.

The CA network and the strong standing it has in ethics has an opportunity to help work towards a more diverse and inclusive society.

It’s difficult to ignore the increasing sense of division in the world today.

It’s so important to have passion and stand up for what you believe in, but it’s equally critical to do so in a constructive and respectful manner.

In my former roles and in my current role of ICAS CEO I have been fortunate to have met many wonderful people from a multitude of backgrounds, religions and creeds and with each meeting, and each conversation, I learn.

The CA network and the strong standing it has in ethics has an opportunity to help work towards a more diverse and inclusive society.

A little help can go a long way

The sad fact is that a large portion of our society lack the support or means to pursue their aspirations of the higher education required by many of today’s professions.

This is why I am proud of the work of the ICAS Foundation to help many young men and women build on their potential and work towards the CA qualification.

The Foundation has been working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds since 2012 by offering mentoring programmes, grants and bursaries.

The ICAS Foundation is offering bursaries of up to £10,000, payable over four years, to eligible candidates. The deadline to this is fast approaching, with applications for this wonderful opportunity closing on 31 May.

I would like to put out a call to our members and friends in the business and finance sphere to raise awareness of these funds.

This bursary has the potential to change people’s lives for the better, giving them the means to fully realise their potential.

Support can be given to the foundation in a number of ways.

Becoming an ICAS Foundation mentor is a fantastic way to pass on your knowledge and experience to the next generation of CAs.

One only needs to read the inspiring stories of people like Foundation student Gemma or mentor Caroline to understand how a little guidance can go a long way to helping someone towards a brighter future.

Offering to provide internships where students can gain valuable work experience, or simply making a donation to the Foundation, can really make a world of difference to help nurture the FTSE 100 CEOs of the future.


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