Social Mobility Awareness Day on 16 June is about promoting wider conversations around social mobility and the organisations that are committed to bringing about impactful change.
This year focuses on the question ‘What is Social Mobility?’ One definition is the link between someone’s occupation or income and the occupation or income of their parents. If there’s a strong link between the two, it indicates low social mobility.
Back in 2010, a report produced for the UK government said rates of social mobility were lower than in many other developed countries. 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 pandemic, 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.
By creating good jobs and apprenticeships with competitive pay and excellent development opportunities, and supporting education at all levels, we are working to remove barriers and create more opportunities and career pathways for people from all backgrounds.
Social Mobility Awareness Day comes ahead of the deadline for entries to the Social Mobility Awards later in October. This year, Amazon is sponsoring the Awards, which recognise best practice, innovation and excellence in elevating social mobility as a cause equal to the level of other diversity issues.
“We are delighted to be a partner of this year’s Social Mobility Awards to raise awareness, share best practice and celebrate the many ways organisations of all kinds across the UK are helping to drive social mobility. At Amazon, we believe that success and scale bring broad responsibility, and we are working to help boost social mobility in communities across the UK,” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon.
“By creating good jobs and apprenticeships with competitive pay and excellent development opportunities, and supporting education at all levels – from delivering free breakfasts to school children with Magic Breakfast to our Amazon Future Engineer bursary programme for students from low-income households, we are working to remove barriers and create more opportunities and career pathways for people from all backgrounds. I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s stories through the award entries, and coming together as a business community to help more people across the UK realise their potential.”
"We are so pleased to have Amazon as the Gold Partner for this year’s UK Social Mobility Awards and to be working with the incredible team there who are clearly passionate about tackling the important issue that is social mobility," said Tunde Banjoko.
"We're looking forward to seeing the outcomes of this great partnership with Amazon as we continue to champion the advancement of social mobility throughout the UK and ensure more and more organisations are being recognised and celebrated for the work they are doing."
To improve social mobility in the UK, employers need to put socio-economic diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of their organisations. That’s why on top of creating opportunities for education and upskilling in the communities we operate in, Amazon open up careers and pathways for our employees too.
Meet some of our employees who have created careers they love through taking advantage of the opportunities available at Amazon:
Bobby Clements, 28, Delivery Station Manager
Bobby joined Amazon in 2014 as a temporary sortation associate during a period of seasonal recruitment. Having recently left a career as a website designer, he knew he wanted to find work in a fast-paced and more active environment. He first joined Amazon to try something new while he figured out a career plan.
Since starting at Amazon, Bobby has been promoted four times and now holds a position as delivery station manager. He has worked in five Amazon delivery stations across the UK and is currently responsible for leading a team of more than 50 employees at the company’s delivery station in Barking.
“Working at Amazon is never boring,” said Bobby. “Employees are given so many opportunities to continue learning. I always tell people to take advantage of the opportunities and get stuck in, because the more people you know, the more you know and the more help you can give.”
Later this year Bobby will be moving to a new role at Amazon, helping the company to organise the logistics for major events like Prime Day and Black Friday. He hopes that this progression will open doors for him to one day lead an even bigger team to success.
Christelle Maignan, 46, Knowledge Engineer, Amazon Alexa
Today, Christelle is a multilingual Knowledge Engineer at Amazon Alexa. She works alongside machine learning scientists and software engineers to build the technology that powers Alexa’s ability to speak multiple languages. Prior to joining Amazon, her background was in languages and intercultural studies and had a 20-year-long career in translation.
Over the past four years she has trained in technical skills at Amazon, transforming from a French language expert to a multilingual Knowledge Engineer who specialises in Natural Language Understanding and Natural Language Generation.
“I was so surprised that the tech industry would be interested in someone like me. I was 42 then, with no technical background. What I did have was a set of skills that I’d never thought to put on my CV, like problem-solving, being analytical, pragmatism and strong reasoning and logic.
“If you want to transition to a more technical role, but don’t have a technical background, think about the non-technical skills that you’ve acquired over the years, and a company like Amazon might just give you a chance.”
Agnieszka Oles, 33, Area Manager
Agnieszka is originally from Poland and has been living in England for 14 years. She joined Amazon in August 2018 following a 10-year career in the hospitality industry. Agnieszka had reached a point in her previous role where no further progression opportunities were coming up, so she decided it was time to try something new.
As a mother of two young children, Agnieszka loves the work-life balance Amazon offers. Career development and the chance to be more present for her children were the main reasons she decided to apply for a job here.
Today, Agnieszka has worked across multiple departments and in various roles during her time with Amazon, starting out as an entry level associate in the inbound team before working her way up to her current role of acting area manager at the fulfilment centre in Bolton.
Agnieszka has used the Amazon Career Choice programme to help her progress. “The opportunities are endless. I recently completed CIPD Level 3 and Level 5 in HR, with 95 per cent of the fees covered by Amazon. I couldn’t have done these courses without this support and the career choice programme.”
Agnieszka is currently studying a three-year Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship with Amazon and Manchester Metropolitan University. Her long-term goal is to become a permanent area manager at the fulfilment centre in Bolton, a town in which she feels her family is now thriving thanks to Amazon.
Bailey Henderson, 23, Area Manager
Bailey joined Amazon in 2020 as a seasonal worker. Bailey was working on his post-graduate degree in nutritional sciences when the pandemic hit, so he decided to find a part-time job while he planned the next steps for his career.
Despite only joining Amazon 18 months ago, Bailey has already gained lots of new skills and had the opportunity to do a training programme to become an area manager at the company’s fulfilment centre in Durham.
“I’ve been amazed at how interesting the world of operations is and that’s why I’ve decided to really focus my career on it,” said Bailey. “Having the chance to build a career I love in a team with so many great people is an opportunity I’m grabbing with both hands.”
“I really believe that Amazon offers a learning and development environment unlike any other, I’m excited for what lies ahead in my career with the company.”
Bailey hopes to keep developing new skills and climbing the ladder in operations, with the end goal of becoming an operations manager or higher.
Ben Robertson, 38, Senior Operations Manager
Ben joined Amazon when the shift patterns in his bar management career no longer suited his lifestyle. He applied for a temporary role at Amazon in Dunfermline in the summer of 2012 and has been working with the team there ever since.
One promotion led to another, and Ben now finds himself in a senior role at the fulfilment centre managing the outbound shipment of parcels to customers across the UK.
“The tailored developmental opportunities I’ve been given at every step of my progression at Amazon have been second to none,” said Ben. “At one point I was encouraged to travel around Amazon sites across Europe to receive the best leadership training possible.
“I would encourage anyone considering a career at Amazon to come in with an open mind and a good work ethic, because for those who want to fly high, the sky is the limit!”
Looking to the future, Ben plans to become more involved in the community engagement opportunities available at Amazon in Dunfermline, hoping to give back to the community and uphold the site’s reputation as a force for good in the local area of Fife and beyond.
Through raising awareness and celebrating the people and organisations that are committed to bringing about change, we are advancing the cause of social mobility in the UK.
Read more about Amazon’s Levelling Up Impact Report.