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Social Mobility and The Board

Social mobility, in relation to the Board, refers to the ability of individuals to move up or down their career without limitations based on a person’s socio-economic situation, either in relation to their parents (inter-generational mobility) or throughout their lifetime (intra-generational mobility). The Board of Directors plays a crucial role in considering and promoting social mobility within their organisations.

Socio-economic diversity in UK boardrooms is important as it ensures that the board (and senior management) has the right combination of skills, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to probe and challenge management’s strategic assumptions and to support management in navigating the company through an increasingly volatile and fast-paced global environment.

"Socio-economic diversity in UK boardrooms is important as it ensures that the board (and senior management) has the right combination of skills, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives"

A diverse workforce brings many benefits to organisations, including increased creativity and innovation, improved decision-making, a better understanding of customers and stakeholders, increased employee engagement and retention, and enhanced reputation and brand value.

Understanding social diversity within a workforce is important because it allows organisations to identify and address any potential barriers to social mobility. By understanding the different backgrounds and experiences of employees, organisations and Boards can create and promote an inclusive culture that values diversity and promotes equal opportunities for all. This can result in increased employee engagement, better decision-making, and improved performance in and of the company.

Employing a diverse workforce brings many benefits to organisations:

  • Firstly, it can boost creativity and innovation as different perspectives and ideas are brought to the table.

  • It can also lead to improved decision-making, as a diverse range of viewpoints can be considered.

  • Additionally, a diverse workforce can help organisations to better understand and connect with their customers and stakeholders.

The Company Secretary can influence social mobility at Board level by providing advice and guidance on diversity and inclusion issues, highlighting the business case for promoting social mobility and encouraging senior leaders and managers to act. The Company Secretary can also support the development and implementation of policies and practices that promote diversity and inclusion, provide guidance and support to senior leaders and managers, and help to create a culture of inclusion and equal opportunities.

Social mobility at Board level can be measured by:

  • Reviewing Board recruitment and promotion processes to remove any potential barriers.

  • Tracking the diversity of the Board and senior management team.

  • Monitoring the socio-economic backgrounds of Board members.

  • Conducting surveys or focus groups to gather feedback from employees from diverse backgrounds.

To help promote social mobility at Board level, organisations will need to collect data on the diversity of their Board and executive team. This includes data on the socio-economic background, gender, race, and disability status of Board members. Measuring social mobility also involves tracking the progression of employees from underrepresented backgrounds and monitoring the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion policies.

"organisations will need to collect data on the diversity of their Board and executive team"

When applying for a NED role, if you have experienced social mobility, we recommend highlighting how your journey and background have equipped you with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented groups. Diversity encourages the examination of issues from multiple angles, leading to more comprehensive problem-solving. Showcase to the Board the benefit of tapping into the collective knowledge, experiences, and insights of its diverse members, which can result in better decision-making and improved outcomes.

For the experienced NED who wants to introduce fresh ideas on managing (a specific

area, problem, or challenge), here is how social mobility can help:

Innovation and agility: Social mobility fosters an ability to adapt to changing circumstances and find creative solutions. An experienced NED with a social mobility background can draw upon their diverse experiences, which may include exposure to different industries, markets, or cultural contexts. This can enable them to offer innovative approaches and solutions, bringing in fresh perspectives and unconventional ideas.

Problem-solving from diverse angles: Social mobility often exposes individuals to diverse working environments, team dynamics, and problem-solving approaches. This breadth of experience can allow a NED to approach problems or challenges from multiple angles, drawing upon insights gained from various contexts. They can propose alternative strategies, challenge conventional thinking, and encourage the

Board to explore new avenues.

Building inclusive teams: A NED with a social mobility background can appreciate the value of diversity in building teams. They can advocate for creating diverse teams and bringing together individuals with different skills, perspectives, and ideas, tapping into the collective intelligence of the team to find effective solutions.

At Actuate Global, we provide a comprehensive range of services, including personalised one-on-one coaching which can be tailored to help you prepare for your ideal Non-Executive Director (NED) role. If you’re interested in exploring how we can assist you, please don’t hesitate to book a

call. We look forward to discussing your specific requirements and goals.

Written by Ruth Odih

Ruth Odih is a key member of Centrica plc’s Secretariat Team, bringing extensive experience in corporate governance practices across a variety of UK and multinational organisations, with a strong background in the energy, oil and gas, catering, private equity, and financial services industries.


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