Social mobility is about creating a fairer, more equitable society – an ambition growing in significance.  Research continues to show that where you come from and what your parents do for a living has an impact on the opportunities that are available to you in life, from education, work experience and career aspirations through to hobbies and interests.

Businesses are increasingly being driven to represent the communities they serve, recruiting from a wider talent pool and benefiting from the diversity of thought that creates. There has quite rightly been a focus and momentum in examining ethnicity and gender traits however the intersectional lens is missing a view of socio-economic background – at least for the moment.

Our aim with this survey was to begin the first in what we hope will be a long-term piece of analysis on the socio-economic background of board members.  We hope the findings provide an initial understanding of whether current board composition is reflective of the society businesses operate in, the challenges people from lower socio-economic backgrounds might face when trying to progress to board level, as well as provide some practical steps for board members to enact change from the top. 

Key findings from our respondents:

  • Over 70% of respondents come from a professional background versus 15% who come from working class backgrounds – this stark contrast suggests a lack of socio-economic diversity in the boardroom
  • 84% of respondents said their boards are not measuring the socio-economic background of board members and 69% said that their nomination committees were not addressing it during succession planning – suggesting a lack of prioritisation compared to other diversity traits
  • Almost all respondents (92%) said that they were not asked about their socio-economic background in their recruitment process
  • Importance of networks and mentors are important enablers to reach the boardroom – 67% of respondents benefited from access to networks and mentors
  • 83% said that they were comfortable in sharing their background - of those who were not comfortable, some thought they would be viewed with bias if they came from a privileged background

Access the full survey results, key findings, and conclusions here:

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