Law firms are leading the way on driving social mobility in the workplace, according to a national employer index published today.
The law accounts for a quarter of the Social Mobility Foundation’s 2021 employer index, with full-service firm Browne Jacobson taking the top spot. Several City firms feature in the top-75 list, which also includes the Ministry of Justice (11th place) and Crown Prosecution Service (26th place).
The City firms are (in the order of ranking): Herbert Smith Freehills (3); Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (9); CMS (13); Squire Patton Boggs (15); DLA Piper (17); Baker McKenzie (19); Allen & Overy (24); Slaughter and May (27); Linklaters (28); Pinsent Masons (30); Lewis Silkin (34); Hogan Lovells (35); Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (37); Shoosmiths (42); Simmons & Simmons (43); Eversheds Sutherland (47); Osborne Clarke (48); DWF Law (51); McFarlanes (52); Clyde and Co (53); Burges Salmon (56); Addleshaw Goddard (59); RPC (63); Taylor Wessing (67); Ashurst (69); White and Case (70); and Mayer Brown (74).
The top 75 also includes Scottish firms Brodies (44) and Shepherd and Wedderburn (50), and London set Radcliffe Chambers (62).
Former minister Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: ‘Employer-led social mobility will be vital in bridging the divide and delivering the levelling up agenda. All of the employers represented in the index are showing that it is possible to create a society where it is not background or birth but aptitude and ability that dictate progress in life. They are providing it is possible to build back better. If we are to rescue the fraying promise of a meritocratic society, then more employers must join them and government must follow suit in taking targeted action to address social mobility.’
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘We are delighted to see the legal sector featuring so prominently on the 2021 Social Mobility Index. It is heartening to see the measures some firms have taken to advance social mobility, such as running virtual events with partners to inform students about apprenticeship programmes and offering mentoring programmes for applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.’
Noting that the pandemic has widened socio-economic inequalities in education and employment, she said it ‘has also created potential opportunities for firms and organisations to reach out to students and candidates in geographical areas that historically have had low social mobility’.
The index is an annual benchmarking tool aimed at helping organisations understand how they are performing on social mobility and where they can improve.