The Social Mobility Podcast is a series of conversations with individuals who advocate for, work within or represent social mobility from a range of sectors, including education, business, charity and the media. Together with host Tunde Banjoko OBE, guests discuss the importance of advancing diversity and equality, and explore what can be done to address socio-economic inequality.
Charlotte Duerden: “Diversity drives better business outcomes”
Charlotte Duerden is the UK Country Manager for American Express. Charlotte has worked for Amex since 1999, holding various roles in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. She has a keen interest in pushing equality within the workplace, with initiatives like The Women’s Charter and has a strong sense of community and service to others. Charlotte featured on a list of top 100 role models and while she’ll tell you she’s uncomfortable with the title ‘role model’, it set her on a mission to do even more through American Express for the next generation. Charlotte’s motivation for education stretches outside of the workplace - she’s also a trustee for the charity Friends of St Marcellin’s Children, and explains how the Zimbabwe orphanage the charity supports has even gone on to make the decision to build a school. Charlotte speaks passionately about wanting everyone to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes and through that, believes we could all be empowered to further equality.
Christine Hodgson CBE: “Creating an environment where everyone can thrive”
Christine Hodgson CBE is Chair of Severn Trent Plc, and before that spent more than 20 years as Chair of Capgemini UK. She has a portfolio of non-executive roles in the private, charity and education sectors. She’s a senior independent director at Standard Chartered Bank, Chair of the Careers and Enterprise Company, Chair of the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership, and works with the Prince of Wales charity Business in the Community. Through her work in Blackpool, Christine has learnt the importance of a ‘place-based approach’ when tackling social mobility, and in this episode explains why efforts should be focussed on improving areas of the country which are holding people back. Highlighting her support of degree apprenticeships, Christine describes the essential role both first-class education and work life preparation play in supporting the futures of young people. Christine has faith in education’s power to break the cycle of socioeconomic disadvantage, and says any businesses failing to tackle the issue are setting themselves up for failure - “We all have to play our part in the communities in which we live and work”.
Nick Owen: “Equality of outcomes will require equality of opportunities”
Nick Owen is Chair of Deloitte UK, a trustee of Teach First and Macmillan, and a council member of Heart of the City. Nick’s interest in the importance and value of education began at school. He sees it as a massive contributor to social mobility, and backs this up with stark figures and statistics, and explains how the pandemic has eroded much of the progress we’ve made over the past 10 years. In an effort to play its part, Nick says Deloitte’s recruitment processes and apprenticeship schemes have been designed to level the playing field, so people from all walks of life have equal opportunities in the business. In this episode find out why academic achievement shouldn’t be the only factor contributing to success, learn how diversity in all its forms is good for business, and find out why businesses need to better understand their ‘fundamental purpose’.
Chris Stylianou OBE: “I want to live in a world that is fairer”
Chris Stylianou is Chief Operating Officer, UK and Ireland, at Sky. He was awarded an OBE for services to diversity and the economy - though he’s keen to point out that it’s been teamwork, not the work of one individual, that has helped shape Sky’s progressive policies. Chris’ interest in advancing gender equality stems from what he saw during his early days at university - a passion that has strengthened over the years, watching his daughters grow up. He believes social mobility is a massive enabler for achieving broader diversity goals, and discusses the importance of being bold and brave when tackling issues of inclusion. There are many fascinating insights, including great advice on how to deal with “naysayers”, and how subtle changes to job adverts can promote diversity. At the heart of it all, Chris’ motivation is about doing the right thing - it’s as simple as that.
Clare Parsons: “Every step is a step worth taking”
Clare Parsons is Chair and co-founder of strategic reputation management consultancy Lansons. Clare is also a board member for PROI Worldwide, a trustee of arts charity High Tide, and serves on a wide range of industry and not-for-profit committees. Clare’s father died when she was young and she was raised by her mother. She says it was her mother’s fortitude and belief that women can achieve anything that has allowed her to climb the ladder of success. Clare and her now husband set up Lansons 31 years ago with the premise of meritocracy at the forefront from the very beginning - a rather unique approach to business at the time. To this day Clare continues to ensure there are no barriers to entry, whether because of schooling, gender or race. Clare staunchly believes organisational diversity is what drives success in business, and that leadership needs to step up and show a willingness to change.
Kevin Ellis: “Without a diverse workforce, you’re taking a risk on your business’s future”
Kevin Ellis is Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC UK, and a staunch proponent of social mobility in business. Inspired by his father’s journey to become a qualified professional, Kevin joined PwC for a qualification of his own, and has stayed for nearly 36 years. He believes social mobility is not just a societal good, but also an economic necessity - serving as both a benefit to the company’s diverse client base, and as an accelerator and escalator for staff. Kevin is particularly proud of the opportunities PwC gives to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including the 9% of staff which grew up receiving free school meals. In this conversation Kevin discusses the “media blackout” around positive social mobility stories, and the issues that causes, he explains the importance of gathering diversity data, and he explores the role personal stories play in promoting the message of social mobility far and wide.