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Supporting social mobility

Different life experiences make for stronger teams

Building a firm that’s open to everyone means valuing everyone’s background.

Research from The Bridge Group shows that, in 2020, 89 per cent of senior roles in financial services were occupied by people from professional backgrounds (defined by parental occupation at 14) - nearly three times higher than the UK working population.

In addition, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds take 25 per cent longer to progress and be promoted compared with those from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

One of our main priorities is building an inclusive firm that’s open to everyone, in which everyone can be themselves. That means valuing everyone’s background in the same way as we value their ethnicity, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Paying attention to and valuing people’s different life experiences is the best way to build strong teams, right across Deloitte,” said people and purpose managing partner Jackie Henry.

“It’s helping us to bring a diversity of ideas and perspectives to our work, which is so valuable to our clients and helps us to make the biggest possible impact.”

Supporting Social Mobility

To support social mobility in our firm, we’re sending out a clear message: if you have the drive to succeed and want to work at Deloitte but aren’t sure whether our firm or professional services is right for you, think again.

We were one of the first firms to introduce school and university-blind recruitment, with an inclusive selection process, and a focus on assessments being more about candidate ambition and potential.

The disclosure of information about our people’s diversity is also important, enabling us to track and monitor progress against our diversity targets and inclusion ambitions. We collect and publish detailed anonymised data on the ethnicity and gender of our people – and with around half of our workforce already disclosing information about their background, we are working to increase our disclosure rates from 50 per cent to 70 per cent this year and use this better disclosure of data to review the progression trends of our current workforce.

Taking action

Wider action we’re taking to achieve greater social mobility in our firm and profession includes:

  • Leading the way across Financial and Professional Services (FPS) to help network and benchmark socio-economic diversity in the sectors, through our work on the Government’s Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce.
  • Participating in the Access Accountancy initiative and meet the commitments as part of this, which includes our ASPIRE work experience programme. We’ve delivered nearly 1,000 work experience placements since 2016.
  • Continuing to partner with the social mobility charity upReach, running a professional experience event for undergraduate students with strong indicators of low social mobility.
  • Working to improve the disclosure of our diversity data, including social mobility specific questions.
The Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce

The Taskforce was set up in November 2020 by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to improve socio-economic diversity. Run by the City of London Corporation, its vision is to improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels in Financial and Professional Services (FPS).

It recognises that, in FPS, a perceived ‘cultural fit’ has often been valued over talent and performance - and that a lack of data collected about people’s backgrounds has prevented accurate measurement of the problem.

“The Taskforce is a unique opportunity to redress how the financial and professional services sector supports talent from diverse backgrounds, providing equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status to get ahead,” said policy chair at the City of London Corporation, Catherine McGuinness.

Its ultimate goal is to support the sectors to boost diversity and tap into the widest possible pool of talent, recognising this is important to help the UK to maximise global competitiveness – and our role in the taskforce is to lead an industry consultation on how government, regulators and sector bodies can incentivise firms to act.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to help create positive change and we’re so excited about the role we can have in driving this forward.” said Kay Forsythe, who is leading the Taskforce’s industry consultation for Deloitte.

The work includes seeking to truly understand the causes for, and the challenges which impact career progression for people from non-professional backgrounds, to explore the intersections with other protected characteristics, including gender and race, and to identify the actions that make a difference. To help make meaningful and lasting change, the Taskforce will create a membership body for FPS where employers can benchmark against one another, share best practice and produce a productivity analysis to build the business case for increasing socio-economic diversity at senior levels within the next two years.


We’re proud to be a founding partner of upReach – a social mobility focused charitable foundation who are committed to remove barriers to our profession.

Partnering with upReach for the past eight years, we’ve mentored young people, offered insight days and work experience opportunities to participating students.

As a result, 54 students who took part in upReach were offered a place on our 2020-21 Early Careers programmes and 113 graduate offers have been made since the partnership began.


As one of the first signatories to Access Accountancy, we’re part of a group of employers and professional bodies across the UK, collaborating to encourage talented young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds into the profession.

Applicants from all backgrounds can gain access to high quality work experience, crucially gaining skills, building networks and gaining insights into a profession they may not have previously considered was within their reach.

In response to the challenges of the pandemic, our work with Access Accountancy included evolving our ASPIRE work experience programme. We delivered this programme as a virtual event in 2020 that brought together 193 students from years 12 & 13.

Students fitting the social mobility criteria set through Access Accountancy were selected and spent time with Deloitte volunteers, taking part in an immersive client project simulation as well as sessions to develop skills that will help with their future. Each student was also offered a Deloitte mentor for a year and feedback received so far suggests that the event has helped students to consider a career in accounting, when they would not ordinarily be encouraged to do so.

Paying attention to and valuing people’s different life experiences is the best way to build strong teams, right across Deloitte.

Jackie Henry

People and purpose managing director, Deloitte UK

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