Browne Jacobson, which recently set up a Dublin office, has been named number one British employer in the Social Mobility Index, ranking ahead of Grant Thornton, KPMG and PwC, for the second consecutive year.
Senior partner Caroline Green said that the firm was “incredibly proud” to maintain its position as the leading employer for social mobility in Britain, having implemented initiatives to widen its pool of talent.
“At Browne Jacobson, we believe in fairness, and that success should not be dependent on ‘who you know’.
“We do not have limitless resources, and our success has been achieved through a change of approach that everyone can adopt. We are delighted to share best practice to encourage other employers to level the playing field,” she said.
The firm was praised for its school outreach, 100% of which was conducted at non-selective state schools, and 62% of the young people who took part were eligible for free school meals.
The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) index finds a geographical divide with employers targeting school outreach efforts in cities, with limited engagement in rural schools.
Nine employers in the index failed to end unpaid internships – a key barrier to social mobility, in which young people effectively work for free.
Chair Alan Milburn criticised the fact that only one energy company, BP, entered the index, saying it was “an abdication of [energy company] social responsibilities”.
Clifford Chance, KPMG and PwC also demonstrated strong progress by measuring, reporting, and, in some cases, setting targets to close their class pay gap. In total, 28 entrants are measuring this gap.
Previous SMF research shows that working-class people in Britain face a class pay gap of Stg £6,718 per year.
Alan Milburn added: “The economic crisis is widening the deep social divide in Britain. Young people are on the frontline of this great divide, which is why employer-led social-mobility efforts are so vital to creating opportunity based on merit, and not social class.
“The employers represented in this year’s index are proving that it is possible for aptitude and ability – not background or birth – to decide your progress in life. They are doubling down on improving social mobility, but many more employers need to join them,” he said.