During a time when the country is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, and the government is focusing on a levelling-up agenda, social mobility is becoming increasingly prominent in UK business strategy.

The responsibility rests on all employers to help address the inequalities that create barriers to growth if we want to live in the best world possible.

This is particularly relevant to those from less advantaged and under-represented backgrounds who have historically found obstacles in their way, whether conscious or unconscious.

Our Social Promise at 14forty and Compass Group outlines our wide-ranging approach to tackle this, which isn’t just words. It is ingrained in our culture. It is one of the biggest and boldest sets of commitments made in business to provide opportunities for all.

These promises apply across our parent group Compass and championed Business & Industry Managing Director Morag Freathy, who has always been passionate about equality and social mobility.

Her vision is for people of all backgrounds to achieve their full potential whilst at 14forty and to feel they can go as far as they want in the business.

Click here to read more about our Social Promise

The commitments include ambitious gender, ethnicity (with specific targets on black representation) and the industry's first socio-economic representation targets. These targets are set for the executive and leadership team, middle management, junior management and frontline workers.  

It's not unusual here to see employees who start on the 'shop floor' rise to the managerial level and it's one of the things which makes 14forty such a strong team. But we know we can do even better.

Adam Kowalski, for instance, joined us as a kitchen porter, but he dreamed of being a commis chef. With his mentor's expert guidance, he did his NVQ and 14forty training on menus, costings, budgeting, and service. In addition to being promoted to chef de partie, he's now training to be a team leader/supervisor.

Our innovative apprenticeship scheme and career pathways are championed by our team and, are open to employees of all roles and ages and aim to open doors for all.

A great example is nutritionist Rees Bramwell, who is studying an MSc in Sustainability at Cranfield University as part of an apprenticeship programme. He has brought so much learning into the business that 'Sustainability Lead' has been added to his job title.

It's great to hear these kinds of stories, but we know we can do more by delivering on our Social Promise.

As part of that aim, we recently committed to supporting a grand total of ONE MILLION people through jobs, training and skill development.

Opportunities include:

  • Providing work through skills development, entry-level schemes and promotions.
  • Outreach to schools and communities to provide access to work placements and opportunities.
  • Working with communities and social enterprises through the introduction of volunteer days.
  • Promoting healthy eating habits for the next generation.

In addition, Compass Group's flagship Compass Group Academy is set to open next year.

Our state-of-the-art hub based in the West Midlands will:

  • Train over 12,000 people a year in hospitality, culinary and other services
  • Educate and inspire students from socio-economically challenged and diverse communities with 20% of resources focussed on this alone
  • Partner with charitable organisations such as The Springboard Charity and The Prince's Trust
  • Support post-Covid initiatives including traineeships and kickstart programmes for the younger generation

These initiatives help create a buzz in the business and inspire people at all levels to believe there are no barriers to success if they want to aim high.

That’s the kind of world we all want to live in.

By Mauro Ortelli, Managing Director, 14forty