THE BLOG

Building a Society Where Everyone Can Reach Their Potential

05/02/2016 15:12 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 10:12 GMT

"I want to talk about inequality in the public sector - and beyond - and why it matters for building a society in which all can reach their potential."

Words declared earlier this week by the Paymaster General, Matt Hancock MP, at the publishing of the Bridge Report.

A pledge to deal with inequality is something we have all heard by previous governments time and time again and nothing much ever seems to change.

This time it is different.

This Government is determined to put its words into action. This Government is taking inequality seriously. This Government is preparing to battle inequality head on to ensure we build a society where everyone is given the opportunity to unlock their potential, a society where no one is defined by the circumstances of their birth, a society where all are given a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity.

The Bridge Report is the first of its kind published by any employer in the country and is dedicated to finding ways to deal with the lack of social mobility across both the public and private sectors. Recommendations the Government is putting into practice in the public sector, whilst encouraging other major employers to do the same.

This Conservative Government is a Government that knows it is not enough for them to merely tell people what to do, but they must set the example and lead the way forward.

I am living proof the Paymaster General himself personally puts potential ahead of polish.

I am from a working family, born and bred in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. I am a twice University drop-out who was working part-time stacking shelves in a supermarket when I optimistically applied for a role in his Parliamentary Office. I expected my application to get laughed off, jobs in Parliament are hugely competitive and jobs with Government Ministers even more so. Instead I received an invitation to interview, followed soon by an invitation to a second interview and soon after that, a job offer.

I remember Matt telling me during a phone interview with him, 'I am not worried about you having dropped out of University twice. It is clear it was not because could not cope, you obviously are intelligent. You just need to find where you fit and you will flourish. You need a chance.' He did not just tell me this. He gave me my chance. He took a risk on me, gave me my place to fit and, under his guidance, I did flourish. Despite me recently taking up a new job back in West Yorkshire, Matt continues to mentor and support me in every way possible, helping me up each rung of the ladder of opportunity.

Making it so each individual receives their opportunity, regardless of background, is genuinely on his heart and I can say, with confidence, he will do all he can to put this into practice across the workplace and beyond.

The Government is leading by example by ensuring the Civil Service carries out recommendations in the report and will be encouraging other employers to do the same. These measures include rolling out name-blind recruitment, to ensure that people are recruited on merit alone, and publishing pay ratios in the Civil Service. The Government is also planning to take graduate recruitment out of London and to regional assessment centres across the country, as well as shortening the recruitment process to make it less intimidating.

Apprenticeships and mentoring are central to this Government's strategy to give opportunity to all. Over 200,000 apprenticeships will be created in the public sector by 2020, giving more young people the opportunity to get their foot on the ladder. The Government will also continue to roll out its mentorship scheme, giving mentors to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Young people who are the future leaders of tomorrow.

While leading the way, the Government will do all it can to urge other major employers to take a similar approach so we can tackle inequality across the whole workplace.

As the Paymaster General concluded, "It's harder to climb the ladder of opportunity if the rungs are further apart. We've got to put more rungs in that ladder."

This Government is already putting rungs on the ladder and will continue to, so that more people can start to climb. The Conservative Party truly is the party of opportunity.