Social mobility and the public sector | 7. Conclusion

Social mobility and the public sector | 7. Conclusion

7. Conclusion

Over the last three decades, people around the world experienced significant improvements in living conditions alongside a large global economic expansion – but the distribution of these gains has been unequal.

Focusing on additional dimensions of social mobility, this report has demonstrated that social mobility is a multifaceted challenge. An examination of individual life courses, educational attainment, gender and geography gives a sense of the sheer number of dimensions affecting the social mobility agenda. Various factors must be mitigated, such as inequality and corruption, to provide an equal opportunity for all. Clearly, the factors discussed in this report are not an exhaustive list but instead demonstrate the breadth and complexity of the challenge.

The public sector plays an essential role in creating societies with equal opportunity. ACCA’s survey has shown that, globally, the public sector has performed comparatively well at providing access to individuals from under-privileged socio-economic backgrounds. Finance professionals in the public sector were also more likely to have received their professional accountancy designation later in their working life, suggesting that the public sector can be more effective at supporting second careers and upskilling during an individual’s career. It is also important for finance professionals to consider the range of policy levers available to governments that want to tackle all the dimensions of social mobility. It can be particularly helpful to map these policy levers to dimensions of social mobility to demonstrate how complicated systems can affect a range of socio-economic outcomes.

Professional accountancy bodies and the accountants in their membership must play their part too. Global bodies, such as ACCA, need to continue supporting the development of the profession – collaborating with partners from around the world to build capacity and advocating adherence to international standards. Individual accountants can also make a difference. The report highlights how individuals in the profession can support the development of basic literacy and numeracy, raising awareness of the profession as a career choice, and advocating for equity considerations to feature in government and organisational decision making.

The OECD’s latest report on education and social mobility shows that, overall, educational mobility is improving for member countries (OECD 2018b). This runs counter to the widely held view that mobility is stalling around the world and suggests that – if governments, the private and third sector come together – there is a real possibility for creating societies that provide an equal opportunity for all.