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Slaughter and May is a Top 75 employer for social mobility

Slaughter and May, the international law firm, has today been ranked as one of the Top 75 employers in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2019.

The Top 75 UK employers who have taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace are announced today in what is believed to be the world’s only Social Mobility Employer Index.

The Index is the creation of the Social Mobility Foundation and ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all class backgrounds.

Employers are assessed on everything from the work they do with young people, to their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower income backgrounds progress up the ladder within their organisations.

125 employers from 18 sectors, who collectively employ over 1.1 million people in the UK, answered around 100 questions across 7 different areas. Over 14,000 employees also took part in a voluntary employee survey.

Slaughter and May has been ranked 40th in this Year’s Top 75 employers, improving on its ranking in 2018 which saw it reach 45th place.

Measures taken by the firm to improve social mobility include:

  • the launch in 2019 of the Law Springboard programme in partnership with upReach, which is designed to improve access to the legal sector for high potential undergraduates from less-advantaged backgrounds;
  • the launch of Lead in to Law, in partnership with London-based diversity specialist company, Rare in September 2019. This two year development programme is aimed at supporting Year 12 and Year 13 students from socially diverse backgrounds who are interested in a legal career;
  • being a founding member of The Social Mobility Business Partnership, formerly the Legal Social Mobility Partnership – a charity dedicated to supporting students from low income backgrounds;
  • a partnership with Central Foundation Boys’ School and education charity The Access Project to support motivated students from less-privileged backgrounds win places at top universities;
  • sponsoring Rare Discuss, an exclusive training programme for university students from less-advantaged backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a career in law; and
  • being one of the first firms in the City to implement a contextual recruitment system to identify candidates with the greatest potential.

Slaughter and May’s success in the Index is announced today at a launch event at the Francis Crick Institute.

Nilufer von Bismarck, Partner, said: “Social mobility is important to the firm. Last year we made a commitment to build on our existing initiatives and have since launched a number of new partnerships and programmes in order to create a pipeline for socially diverse talent from school-aged students to our recruitment activities, as well as deeper analysis of our recruitment and retention data.”

David Johnston OBE, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “We are delighted to see more and more employers every year taking part in our Social Mobility Employer Index. The quality of submissions this year meant we have increased the size of our Top list from 50 to 75 and it shows the very wide range of organisations trying to make progress on social mobility. Whilst no employer would say they have cracked their social mobility challenge, all of the employers in the Top list – along with those that didn’t quite make it – should be congratulated for the efforts they’re making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all class backgrounds.”

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, added: “Social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country’s top employers. When politics is weak, society needs to be strong – so it is welcome a growing number of employers are stepping up to the plate. They recognise the need to open their doors to a wider pool of talent both to address growing public concerns about unfairness and to reap the business benefits from having more diverse workforces. The onus is now on all of our country’s top employers to do the same.”

TSB chief Paul Pester to forfeit £2m bonus in wake of IT meltdown

The CEO of TSB will forfeit a £2m bonus payment in the light of an IT failure that left thousands of customers locked out of their accounts, as MPs accused the bank boss of being “extraordinarily complacent”.

During a bruising evidence session before the Treasury select committee, TSB chief executive Paul Pester and the bank’s chairman, Richard Meddings, said they had received 40,000 complaints about the outage but did not know exactly how many of the bank’s 1.9 million online customers had been affected.

Meddings told MPs that Pester had volunteered to give up a £2m bonus associated with the migration to a new IT system, hinting that other executives could also have their bonuses slashed. But Pester could still receive up to £1.3m in other bonuses for 2018, on top of a further £1.3m in basic pay, benefits and pension contributions.

Pester declined to predict when the problems, which have been affecting customers for 10 days, would be fixed. The committee chair, Nicky Morgan, accused Pester of being “extraordinarily complacent” after he said the bank’s move to a new IT system, which triggered the problems, had mostly run smoothly.

“What we are hearing this afternoon is the most staggering example of a chief executive who seems unwilling to realise the scale of the problem that is being faced,” she said.

Pester insisted that 95% of customers were now able to log in to the bank’s mobile app and website without problems.

However, MPs on the committee read out a series of emails and tweets from customers that indicated ongoing chaos. One customer said they had spent 14 hours on the phone to customer services, while another said they had been left unable to pay their gas and electricity bills and a third said they risked a house purchase falling through because they could not access bank statements.

Morgan questioned the notion that the IT problems were mostly fixed, saying customers had been put in an “impossible financial situation”.

Simon Clarke MP said Pester’s belief that most customers were now banking without problems could not be true unless there was a “mass conspiracy by members of the public”.

Morgan added that two Treasury committee staff members had found they could not log in during the evidence session, drawing an unexpected reply from Pester.

“It’s nice to know we have so many customers in the room,” he said. “Thank you very much for using TSB.”

He said he was “disappointed” that some customers, who he admitted were being made to wait 30 minutes for their phone calls to be answered, were hanging up in frustration.

TSB has marketed itself in large part on its ability to provide better customer service than larger high street lending rivals.

However, customers began experiencing problems with their accounts on Monday 23 April after the bank – now owned by Spanish lender Sabadell – migrated from an IT system inherited from the previous owner, Lloyds Banking Group.

Sabadell had hoped to make more than £100m in annual savings by using the new system, known as Proteo in apparent reference to Proteus, a Greek god of the sea often associated with change.

Pester insisted the switch to the new system had been rigorously tested beforehand and was “running smoothly” for the most part but that it was struggling to deal with high levels of demand.

“It’s the equivalent of having a shop that’s too small to let the number of customers in,” he said.

He said around 50% of customers had experienced problems with their accounts on the first day of using the new system, with 40,000 complaining, compared to an average of around 3,000 during a typical 10-day period. Pester said around 22,500 have had their problem “acknowledged” by the banks so far.

Morgan referred to a comment made by the bank’s chief information officer in December 2017, who said the switch to Proteo would make TSB “a digital business that just happens to be a bank”. She said TSB “is neither a digital business, nor a bank. In fact it’s a broken bank.”

Pester and Meddings said customers would receive compensation from TSB, not only for any financial loss but also for emotional distress and inconvenience, adding that no customer would be left “out of pocket”.

“We apologise profusely for the issues we’ve caused our customers,” Pester said, adding that it had been a “terrible decision” to go ahead with the switch to a new IT platform.

But he said that TSB was needed to challenge the so-called Big Five high street banks and provide greater competition.

The accountancy firm Deloitte is advising on the bank’s compensation strategy, while TSB has recruited IBM to fix the IT problem and the City law firm Slaughter and May to investigate the cause.

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://www.tsb.co.uk/