A string of City institutions have signed up to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s campaign to open up recruitment to the less well-off.
Barclays, HSBC, Credit Suisse and RBS are just some of the companies that have backed his initiative on internships, work experience and recruitment, according to the London Evening Standard. Other financial institutions such as Santander UK, Citi, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Nationwide Building Society also lent their support to his proposals.
Law firms Allen and Overy, Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, CMS Cameron McKenna, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose, Simmons & Simmons and Irwin Mitchell have also backed the scheme. However, Clegg was critical that some companies did not vow to end unpaid internships.
The Liberal Democrat leader came under fire last April when he launched his new social mobility policy by criticising how internships are frequently given to people from wealthy backgrounds. It later emerged that Clegg had benefited from an internship at a bank, but he is now seeking to ensure that recruitment is opened to all social backgrounds.
He said: “This is an important step towards a society where it’s what you know, not who you know, that counts.
“Working with the Coalition, the biggest hitters in the City of London are helping lead the way to a fairer, more open society.
“By opening their doors to young people from all walks of life, this marks the start of a culture shift at the heart of British business, driven by the belief that ability and drive should trump connections and privilege.”
Those companies that signed up to the new scheme have agreed to make access to internships open to people from all walks of life by ensuring those from poorer backgrounds have the same opportunities as those from more well-off families.
These firms have also vowed to advertise work experience placements and recruit candidates in a fair manner, while they will support communities and schools through various skill-developing schemes.
Clegg was thought to be keen to convince companies to “where possible” pay interns the minimum wage or travel and lunch expenses to ensure that people from poor backgrounds could afford to apply for such roles.