morrisons staff

Morrisons is one of the 10 best UK employers for improving social mobility among staff, according to a new government-backed scheme.

Social Mobility Employer Index named the top 50 UK employers that have taken the most action to improve social mobility within the workplace. Morrisons came in at number nine behind companies such as Grant Thornton UK, KPMG, JP Morgan and PwC. No other food retailers featured in the listing.

The index is a joint initiative between the charity Social Mobility Foundation and government advisory body the Social Mobility Commission, in partnership with the City of London Corporation. It ranks Britain’s employers, for the first time, on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and developing talent from all backgrounds.

Nearly 100 employers from 17 sectors, who collectively employ just under one million people, submitted entries about their practices in areas such as work with young people, recruitment, selection and progression.

It found that firms were increasingly asking both new and current employees about their social background. Four in 10 asked about the type of school attended (41%); a quarter asked if an employee received free school meals (26%); 39% asked if employees were the first in their family to go to university and about one in 10 asked about parental occupation (7%) and the postcode where an employee grew up (11%).

Just under one in five of these companies (17%) now sets social mobility targets as part of their business strategy.

The firms collectively scored the highest on their work with young people. They provided outreach activities for more than 663,000 of them, nearly 10,000 work experience placements and over 5,000 mentors. But they scored the lowest on helping people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to progress in the workplace.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) offered apprenticeships with 77% at GCSE or A-level equivalent.

Of the 50 companies, 96% said they accepted degrees from any university, but 61% of successful applicants attended one of the country’s most selective 24 universities (despite making up just 42% of the applications).

Lisa Leighton, head of talent at Morrisons, said: “At Morrisons, everyone is welcome. We aim to be a meritocracy where people get on in their careers depending on their talents rather than where they come from, so we are pleased to be recognised for the way everybody is given a chance.”

David Johnston, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, applauded the progress being made in this area.

“While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised,” he said.