It's coming home!

The overwhelming focus for many people today will be on this evening’s FIFA World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia.  As England have progressed through the tournament, there has been increasing interest in how a group of disparate young men – the fiercest of rivals when playing for their club sides – have become such a united group.  Harry Kane said of his team-mates after England’s last 16 victory against Colombia: “I look at them like my brothers and they look at me the same.  We will do anything for each other.”

Their story demonstrates the strength that can be found in diversity and teamwork.  There are two other things happening today in the world of O2 that remind us of this truism.

First, I am delighted that O2 has today been included in the 2018 Social Mobility Employer Index, which identifies the UK’s top 50 employers taking the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace.  Produced by the Social Mobility Foundation and now in its second year, the Index ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds.

I am pleased that this year O2 has moved up from 24th to 21st in the Index.  We are the only mobile operator in the Top 50 and the highest placed tech business.  Diversity in our people – be it in social background, gender, race or sexuality – makes us stronger as a business, because it means we can better understand and meet the needs of our customers.

Second, this evening – just before the England game – government ministers will be addressing O2 and other supporters of the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) at 10 Downing Street.  The IEP was launched in September 2017 and is a collaboration between businesses, government and civil society organisations; it seeks to support the UK’s 5.8m low and middle income families by developing practical help around a number of challenges they face, including Transition to Work from education.

To mark the occasion, O2 has committed to two specific actions.  The first of these is to join the Executive Committee of an IEP pilot project in the West Midlands to develop and deliver practical employment advice and support to young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs).  A secondee from our Go Think Big team is also joining the project secretariat for two days a week.  Our second IEP commitment is a new partnership we have agreed between Go Think Big, Wayra and Workfinder to deliver and promote work experience opportunities in Wayra start-ups for young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds who might not otherwise get the chance to work in such enterprises and alongside digital entrepreneurs.

O2 is proud to support social mobility and the IEP.  We believe backing issues and collaborations such as these is the right thing to do and makes our business stronger.  At their core is a commitment to diversity.  We don’t know yet if football is coming home, but we’re definitely bringing diversity home to O2.  Enjoy the match.

Ann Pickering recently recorded a podcast to discuss social mobility and the Inclusive Economy Partnership with Shevaun Haviland of the Cabinet Office and Caroline Mason, CEO of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.  You can listen to it here.