Just two in five employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds across U.K organisations feel included in the workplace.

Also, only half feel safe to be open about their background, according to a new report from Accenture.

However, nearly nine in 10 business leaders believe their employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds feel included at work – double the actual proportion.

These findings clearly contradict high levels of optimism from employers on their progress with inclusion in the workplace.


Career progression

Accenture’s UK & Ireland Market Unit Lead, Simon Eaves calls to British businesses to “build a more socially diverse workforce.

In addition to the divide between business leaders and employees on how included people feel in the workplace, the report finds that employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to progress their careers at the same rate as their colleagues.

One in five employees from low-income backgrounds are promoted once every three years, compared to one in four of their colleagues.

This means an estimated 700,000 employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have missed out on promotion in the U.K.


What is the relationship between workplace culture and social mobility?

 In organisations with more inclusive workplace cultures, employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are both happier and more ambitious.

In these companies, over 90 percent of employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds feel they have the same chance of success as their other colleagues, compared to only 30 percent in companies with less inclusive cultures.

Furthermore, the report finds that the profits of organizations focusing on improving social mobility are 1.4x higher than their competitors that are less focused on the issue.

Accenture found that these more inclusive organizations have adopted the following five key practices – which forms a “blueprint for socioeconomic inclusion”:

  • Trust and Responsibility: Individuals are trusted to take decisions and drive change
  • Role models:Employees see strong, attainable role models
  • Anti-discrimination policies: Employees are treated and compensated equally
  • Flexibility: Employees are empowered to work when, where, and how they need
  • Openness & transparency: Employees feel safe to bring their true selves to work.

“It’s vital that employees feel seen and heard at work so they can thrive equally. By understanding the hidden and pervasive barriers that are holding people back, businesses can access an untapped talent pool and tackle the skills shortages that continue to blight the economy,” argues Mr Eaves.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.