Levelling the playing field: My experience of chairing the Social Mobility Panel

The 93% Club aim to improve the experience of state school students studying at the University of Bristol. As part of our Equality and Diversity Careers Week back in January, they kindly volunteered to chair our Social Mobility Panel. 

Alice (the groups president) shared her experience of chairing the panel with us:  

Chairing the Social Mobility Panel at the Equality and Diversity Careers Week was a fantastic experience that left me feeling inspired and hopeful about the future of social mobility amongst UK employers. 

The representatives from Nationwide and the Civil Service Fast Stream were both keen to share what their organisations were doing to break down barriers and create a more inclusive workplace, both through their applications processes and the training they provide for their staff. It was also great to hear from UpReach and Aspiring Solicitors about their programmes to level the graduate playing field and open doors into careers that may not previously have been open to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. 


It was really helpful to hear insights from Nationwide and the Civil Service about how to stand out in an application through applying experiences such as having a part time job to ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork and resilience. 

All the panellists openly shared their own personal experiences of accessing careers from widening participation backgrounds, which was something I found incredibly inspiring as the Panel Chair and also encouraged a more open and comfortable environment when we opened the discussion to the floor for questions. 

Alice at the Freshers Fair promoting the 93% Club


(Photo by Alice Chancellor for the 93% Club) 

It was fantastic to have such an engaged audience, many of whom stayed to chat to the employers over refreshments after the panel discussion had finished. While the evening was positive, it was acknowledged by all the panellists that more definitely needs to be done, in order to break down barriers and foster a more socially mobile society. 

There is still a stigma attached to many career paths such as Law, Finance and Banking that put off many applicants from widening participation backgrounds as they feel they will not fit in amongst their future colleagues. It will certainly take significant time and effort to address such stigmas and reduce their impact on applicants. The employers that were represented offer great examples of the schemes that have already been put in place to level the playing field, but these need to continue to be implemented across a wide range of sectors to ensure that we see greater equality and diversity in the workplaces of the future.