Slaughter and May recognised as a Top 75 employer in 2020 Social Mobility Employer Index

Slaughter and May has been ranked 25th in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2020, the leading authority on employer best practice, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to social mobility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers have a huge part to play in the levelling up agenda, and the Index demonstrates what is possible if organisations commit to supporting young people from all backgrounds.

The Index was created by the Social Mobility Foundation in 2017 and ranks UK employers on the action they take to ensure they are open to and progressing talent from all backgrounds. It highlights the employers who are doing the most to change how they find, recruit, and advance talented employees from different social class backgrounds. Now in its fourth year, the Employer Index is the definitive benchmark of organisations committed to improving social mobility in the workplace.
Employers are assessed across seven key areas, these include their work with young people, routes into the business, how they attract talent, recruitment and selection, data collection, progression, experienced hires, and advocacy.

This year saw 119 employers from 17 sectors, who collectively employ almost one million people in the UK, answer around 100 questions. In addition to the employers’ responses, over 14,000 employees also took part in a voluntary employee survey.

Slaughter and May has been ranked 25th in the Index for its work in ensuring it enables those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to succeed. Measures the firm has taken to improve social mobility include the launch of two significant social mobility initiatives.

The Law Springboard, delivered in partnership with charity upReach, is designed to improve access to the legal sector for high potential undergraduates from less advantaged backgrounds across all UK universities, and has already led to the firm hiring future trainees from the first cohort. Lead in to Law, delivered with Rare, provides twenty 16 to 18 year olds from less advantaged backgrounds who are interested in a legal career with work experience, insight opportunities, mentoring and university visits

The firm has also been extending its existing graduate recruitment activities to ensure it is reaching more students across UK universities and improving its data collection of socio-economic indicators amongst candidates and employees.

Furthermore, Slaughter and May is looking at how it develops and retains diverse talent. Along with nine other law firms, the firm took part in the Bridge Group research on the relationship between progression to partnership and socio-economic background and it is implementing the recommendations the report produced.

Steve Cooke, Slaughter and May Senior Partner, said: “It's no secret the pandemic has hit the less advantaged the hardest, which only adds to the structural issues we have to tackle as a country and within our industry. All of our social mobility activities have been moved online during the pandemic and we are calling on everyone in the firm to play their part in creating more equal opportunities for those who will be facing immense challenges during this difficult period and beyond.

“It's vital we continue to support and promote social mobility both here at the firm and the wider legal sector. I'm very proud of our Law Springboard programme and our sixth form Lead in to Law initiative and I think we have made progress as a firm over the years, but there is still much work to be done.”

Sarah Atkinson, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “I am delighted that Slaughter and May committed to entering the Index this year despite the challenges they have faced in the wake of the pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to see business play their part in the levelling up agenda.”

The Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, added: “As the COVID-19 crisis continues and the UK descends into a sharp recession, more will need to be done to avoid a job catastrophe, for young people particularly. Already 60% of the jobs that have been lost since the pandemic began have been among 18-24 year olds.

“I urge those sectors of our economy that are not represented in this year’s Index to participate in 2021 and commit to joining the ranks of those employers who are already making such a difference to young people’s life chances.”

About the Social Mobility Employer Index

The Social Mobility Foundation’s Employer Index was established in 2017 to encourage firms to become more accessible to individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The methodology was developed in collaboration with the Bridge Group, a non-profit consultancy that uses research to promote social equality.

The Index is comprised of two elements, questions directed at employers, and an employee survey, which was introduced in 2018. The former assesses employers work across seven areas: their work with young people, routes into the employer, the attraction of staff, recruitment and selection, data collection, progression of staff and experienced hires and advocacy. The latter is to add qualitative insights and contextualise the data provided in submissions. Employers are then benchmarked against one another based on the results. 

In 2020, questions asked to employers and employees remained the same to give employers consistency. Since 2017 a few questions have been tweaked, and additional questions added around culture and intersectionality. For crucial questions, organisations are asked for several years of data to monitor the impact of the changes that organisations have been implementing. 
Index submissions are considered and marked against the latest empirical evidence of what interventions effectively advance social equality in the UK workplace. Our approach is rigorous and ensures a fair process, recognising that different sectors and individual businesses do things differently. This includes:

Identifying a broad range of questions that interrogate the various ways in which employers can contribute to social equality.

  1. Weighting responses based on the evidence that some areas have more impact on social equality relative to others. For example, there is substantial evidence that providing work experience placements for young people is more impactful than general outreach; and that some approaches to recruitment lead to more equal outcomes compared to others.
  2. Weighting whole sections of the marking scheme based on where maximum impact can be delivered. Within each section, every organisation is then categorised within a decile, so that modest differences in scoring do not then significantly affect the overall ranking.
  3. Recognising that not all organisations will score marks for each question. For example, they may not have formal graduate recruitment programmes because of their size. Therefore, organisations are ranked based on the percentage of available marks they have achieved. 

Please note that data is presented in the report as a percentage of the overall submissions, unless otherwise stated, and therefore where percentages have fallen between 2020 and 2019, this is amongst a smaller number of entrants (119 in 2020 vs 125 in 2019). The employers included in the 2020 Index employ 973,735 people.

For further information about the Index, please visit

About the Social Mobility Foundation

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity that aims to make practical improvements in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds both through programme work and through its advocacy and campaigning arm, the Department for Opportunities (DO).

It runs free of charge programmes of mentoring, internships, university application support (including trips to universities and help with personal statements, aptitude tests and interviews) and career and skills workshops to support young people through their sixth-form and university years.

Currently taking on a new cohort of over 2000 young people every year, the SMF has offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle and runs programmes for young people from the Isle of Wight to the Western Isles of Scotland across 11 career sectors (Accountancy, Architecture, Banking & Finance, Biology & Chemistry, Business, Engineering & Physics, Law, Media & Communications, Medicine, Politics, and Digital).