This week Amazon will be the Gold Partner of the UK Social Mobility Awards (SOMOs) which champion the advancement of social mobility by recognising and celebrating employers and educators who are working to improve it.

The awards are organised by Making The Leap, a London-based societal change charity. Founded in 1993, Making The Leap works with schools, young adults and employers to advance social mobility in the UK.

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The UK Social Mobility Awards event, 2021

We are proud to be the Gold Partner of this year’s event as part of our continued commitment to improving social mobility in the UK, and congratulate all of this year’s finalists for their fantastic efforts to advance it!

Social mobility at Amazon

Amazon has a uniquely diverse employee pool with Amazonians located across the UK from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. To serve our employees equitably, promote internal progression and growth, and help us create programmes that support social mobility, we wanted to create a forum and community for employees passionate about social mobility.

That’s why we were pleased to announce the launch of a new employee network, our UK Social Mobility employee resource group. This new group will help to build awareness and resources, normalise conversations about social mobility, and support employees.

The Social Mobility employee resource group will provide a space for UK employees to share their personal success stories and challenges, talk about their backgrounds and where they are in their careers today, and help current and future Amazonians.

One person who has already shared their story is Colin Bridger, a Principal HPC Specialist at Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“I grew up in Knowsley Borough, Liverpool. Knowsley is currently rated second most deprived borough in the UK. It is the only borough to not offer A Levels at all. In the 1980s, when I was at comprehensive school in Cantril Farm, going to Oxbridge wasn’t a thought. My Dad was a shift worker and subsequently a Postman, and my Mum had multiple part-time jobs. I went to College, working part-time in shops to pay for it, and then Nottingham Polytechnic.

“I’m now a Principal HPC Specialist at AWS working with the most super talented people in the world, and supporting organisations like Genomics England and AstraZeneca during Covid on record-breaking genomics and drug discovery programmes. I have a great life and am truly grateful to the inspirational people who helped me along the way, I’d love to try and inspire some of the less privileged school children to maximise the rich and diversified life they may not know is there for them yet.”

Why is social mobility so important?

Social mobility, defined by the UK government, is the link between a person’s occupation or income and the occupation or income of their parents. Where there is a strong link, there is a lower level of social mobility. Where there is a weak link, there is a higher level of social mobility.

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Seema Kennedy OBE, John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager and Rt Hon Justine Greening at the launch of Amazon's Levelling Up Impact Report

Last year, a YouGov poll carried out for the UK’s Social Mobility Commission revealed that over half of adults believe that COVID-19 has increased social inequality and widened the gap between social classes in the UK.

Now, in the wake of the global pandemic and against a backdrop of economic challenges, it is more important than ever for organisations to take steps to boost opportunity and social mobility as we face the challenges of an ever-growing opportunity gap.

Amazon is committed to this challenge, taking a leading role in shaping a set of Levelling Up Goals which aim to improve social mobility across the UK. The Levelling Up Goals, established by the Purpose Coalition and co-chaired by Rt Hon Justine Greening and Seema Kennedy OBE, are a 14-point framework designed to tackle challenges facing the UK and improve social mobility. As part of this work, Amazon launched its Levelling Up Impact Report which lays out the work Amazon is doing to level-up communities and infrastructure, both locally and nationally, including educational and upskilling initiatives.

Watch Rt Hon Justine Greening and our UK CEO John Boumphrey speak about levelling up in the UK.