Financial and professional services toolkit

For employers

Financial and professional services


Support all staff to access opportunities to develop.

Social mobility is not just about who gets in, it’s also about who gets on. Have a defined list of skills required for each promotion – and build flexibility into job specifications. You can watch the video for more top tips or read our guidance below.


Recommendations for developing a socio-economic strategy.
Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale,
detail or commitment.

Analyse data to understand how assessments, progression rates, pay and bonuses or other rewards may be affected by socio-economic background; examine how decisions about this are made (see section above on ‘Using data’).

Create a clear definition of talent at each level of the firm, and an explicit narrative about what experiences, skills and behaviours should contribute to progression.

Create clear processes and policies for work allocation and performance management.

Consider whether your firm offers ‘accelerator’ roles or experiences, which enable individuals who access them to fast-track up the ladder.

Promote and, if able, target training opportunities at those from low socio-economic backgrounds, who regularly receive less training at all levels of jobs.

Ensure training opportunities are evenly taken up by those from all backgrounds.

Provide support and empowerment for management to make informed decisions around business and diversity and inclusion culture priorities.

Establish talent and leadership diversity training schemes that are targeted at those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.


Recommendations for optimising your approach.
Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale,
detail or commitment.

Undertake more advanced analyses to understand staff profiles and intersectionality in more detail, for example:

  • correlations between different diversity characteristics (e.g. socio‑economic background, gender and ethnicity) and relative performance, pay and progression
  • regressions of different diversity characteristics (e.g. school attainment, university attended, gender and ethnicity) on progression rates throughout the organisation
  • qualitative research to understand issues in more detail

Empower senior leaders with key performance indicators about recruitment, retention, remuneration and progression of colleagues in their area from lower socio-economic backgrounds and with other characteristics; this then can be built into part of senior leaders’ performance review processes.

Ensure that performance management processes celebrate and reward individual strengths and differences, enabling individuals to shine and be promoted on worth, rather than needing to assimilate ‘perceived’ behaviours or conform.

Reward management on developing an inclusive work environment in their team and on client projects.

Processes for work allocation should be communicated clearly and regularly, with consequences for those who continually fail to follow firm processes.

Career tracks must be redesigned to be more flexible, demonstrating alternative routes to senior roles.

Where managers have autonomy, set managers targets regarding socio‑economic diversity in their practices or teams to review decisions made in performance, pay and promotion.


Create a culture where individuals can excel due to their individuality, rather than having to ‘fit in’ (see section above on ‘Culture and leadership’).

Create opportunities for employees to engage with the narrative on socio-economic diversity (see section above on ‘Culture and leadership’).

Discourage attitudes that can affect whether an employee progresses in the business (e.g. an employee is not working unless they are physically at a desk in view of their manager, choice between work-life or family life).

Support management and employees to host inclusive team social activities to erode any potential systemic bias.

Be mindful of the types of questions you ask employees on a social level (e.g. “Where do you ski?”, “Where do you summer?”), which can be exclusionary.


Engage with your supply chain in advancing socio‑economic diversity (see section above on ‘Culture and leadership’).

Engage clients in conversation about social mobility and inclusion; explore how and in what ways client perceptions and expectations affect who gets ahead and address those proactively and positively through client-led community work.


Ensure that those taking non-graduate routes receive comparable opportunities for progression and reward as those taking graduate routes.

Develop and support management to enable them to understand and effectively manage individuals based on their strengths and differences.

Ensure middle managers visibly support the offer of training, development and progression opportunities for low-skilled workers.

Provide clear information about available training so that colleagues can request access to these themselves.


Implement rigorous processes for succession planning to:

  • avoid rushed hiring processes to replace leavers (which risks compromising consideration of diversity)
  • reduce the effectiveness of individuals threatening to leave to gain advantage (which is more common among dominant groups)

Develop support interventions for individuals to navigate the organisation. These could include mentor or sponsorship programmes.

Provide career counselling and coaching to enable individuals to overcome current sector innate blockers or barriers.

Legal and accountancy firms please also refer to Appendix A for additional data recommendations that may be required by regulators.

“Access is the first step and at SEO London we widen those doors and encourage our alumni to reach a hand back. In this current turbulent time however, that hand of opportunity can seem just too far away. Our team is committed to doing all we can to bridge that gap. We fully support the Social Mobility Commission and its drive to support all industries with its Toolkit.”
Julie Quist-Therson, Head of Programmes (Law), SEO London