Matheson and Trinity event stresses importance of education in social mobility
Education plays a crucial role in promoting social mobility and should form part of organisations’ diversity and inclusion strategies, a conference hosted by Matheson LLP and Trinity College Dublin has heard.
The annual D&I conference brought together a cross-section of leaders from a diverse number and range of organisations and sectors to discuss the crucial role of education in promoting social mobility.
A poll conducted during the event showed that two-thirds (67 per cent) of participating organisations have factored social mobility into their D&I strategies. Furthermore, nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of respondents said that their organisation actively promotes social mobility through educational programmes such as Transition Year (TY) programmes, Third Level access programmes and scholarships.
Notwithstanding the increasing focus on mobility and diversity over the past several years, speakers at the conference noted that challenges — such as economic barriers and lack of awareness of opportunities — still remain, and that this increased emphasis needs to continue to achieve greater access and equality of opportunity.
Hosted by Matheson partner Stuart Kennedy, the conference heard from keynote speaker Mark McMahon BL, Trinity’s associate vice-provost for EDI Professor Lorraine Leeson, and Matheson chairperson Patrick Spicer, as well as featuring two panel discussions.
The first panel, led by Matheson partner Rebecca Ryan, featured Dr Kevin Marshall, head of learning and skills at Microsoft Ireland; Margaret Gribben, head of DEI at Irish Life Group; Olive Ojo, North East Inner City work experience project officer at the National College of Ireland; and Dr Kevin Sullivan, Trinity Access schools outreach manager, who explored the social mobility impact of TY programmes, with a specific focus on delivering equality of opportunity in schools (DEIS) schools.
The second panel focused on improving social mobility through college access programmes and professional networks. Anthony Gaskin, partner at Matheson, moderated the session and was joined by Carolan Lennon, country leader at Salesforce Ireland; Kate Butler, inclusion and diversity lead at Bank of Ireland; Edima Inyang, president of the African Professional Network of Ireland (APNI); and Jen Maguire Donohoe, Trinity Access student development co-ordinator.
Commenting afterwards, Patrick Spicer, chairperson of Matheson, said: “Education is key to unlocking opportunities and levelling the playing field for individuals from all backgrounds.
“At Matheson, we are proud to champion social mobility through our various initiatives, such as our Transition Year programmes, scholarships, and our support of third-level access programmes. By investing in educational opportunities, we aim to help to create a more inclusive legal profession where everyone has access to pursue a career in law and has the chance to thrive.”
Professor Lorraine Leeson, Associate Vice Provost for EDI, Trinity College Dublin, said: “The D&I Conference is a platform for professionals, educators and community leaders to come together to exchange ideas, share best practices, and forge partnerships that will drive positive change.
“By focusing on the intersection of social mobility and education, today’s event aimed to inspire actionable strategies that nurture talent and enable individuals to reach their full potential, regardless of their socio-economic background.”