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Why are startups critical to UK social mobility?

Amir Nooriala our Chief Commercial Officer sat down with Tunde Banjoko OBE, founder of Making the Leap and the UK Social Mobility Awards to discuss why startups are critical to improving social mobility in the UK.

Tunde founded Making the Leap (MTL) 29 years ago with the goal of raising the aspirations and increasing the access to opportunities for young people from less-advantaged backgrounds.

‘It was something that I fell into by accident but has become my life's work. It's important to give young people opportunities.’

In the UK, how much parents earn is a single biggest factor on how well a child does in life. Millions of children aren’t getting the opportunity to succeed because they happen to be born into poverty. It’s a waste of potential on an industrial scale.

Tunde founded the UK Social Mobility Awards because raising the aspirations of young people was about giving access to opportunities – usually provided through relationships with corporates. Realising that Making the Leap was a small organisation and that they couldn’t move the needle on social mobility alone, they wanted to get every single company in this country involved in social mobility.

If every company’s priorities included addressing social mobility it would really make a difference.

To do that, the Social Mobility Awards were created, the ‘Oscars of social mobility’.

The thinking is this that if you get companies doing some social mobility activities, they start getting competitive.

Winning the UK social mobility awards is a trigger for their competitors, their supply chain, their clients – they all look at it too. And if they like what they see, that in turn is a driver for them to try to do better – quite naturally, they also want a bit of the limelight! But to get that bit of the limelight, they in turn must do something about social mobility. The effect is cumulative: more and more people get involved and engage in activities that empower social mobility. That's why MTL set up UK Social Mobility in 2017.

Why did Making the Leap partner with Callsign to set up the start up award?

Tunde thought that creating a new award was a good idea because startups are finding innovative solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, and more and more people are going to be working for startups.

And so, if there was a way to embed social mobility from the very beginning in how these organisations operate, it's inevitably going to make a contribution to moving the dial when it comes to social mobility.

The more these companies think about social mobility from their founding moments, the further the UK as a whole can further the cause of social mobility. But also, we want that diversity of thought to be there when creating technology in startups. People from less-advantaged backgrounds are usually underrepresented in tech startups, and as a result of that, their voices and their thoughts are not included as much as they need to be in decision making during the development of products and services.

We've got a world class technology capability in this country. If we can get people thinking about social mobility in terms of how they build their apps, in terms of how they hire, in terms of who they appeal to – that will make a BIG difference.

And again, it’s important to remember that more and more of the working population will be working for startups, not big corporates. We can’t afford to overlook this sector and its role and ability to drive social mobility. Those startups will likely grow into larger corporates, so establishing social mobility in their hiring practices, from the very start, will benefit everyone.

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