Each business pledges to “open their doors to people from all walks of life” to “spread opportunities across our society and create a culture change”.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hopes that the programme will go some way towards ending the “who you know, not what you know” culture.
The Government says the scheme, which launches today (12 February), is “an unprecedented partnership between business and government”.
Clegg says: “This is an important step towards a society where it’s what you know, not who you know, that counts. Working with the Coalition, the biggest hitters in British business are helping lead the way to a fairer, more open society.
“By opening their doors to young people from all walks of life, this marks the start of a culture shift among major employers, driven by the belief that ability and drive should trump connections and privilege.
Businesses which sign up to the Compact have pledged to support communities and schools through things like reading and mentoring schemes, internships and apprenticeships or encouraging their staff to go out to schools to talk about their careers.
P&G, for example, will push its support of the Teach First programme, which encourages its graduates to teach full-time in underprivileged schools before embarking on a career at the FMCG firm.
Niall de Lacy, HR director at P&G UK & Ireland says: “This initiative is a natural fit with all the work we are doing to encourage the best young talent across the country to consider business and P&G as their career destination. We are committed to supporting the Social Mobility Business Compact to ensure that the very best and brightest in the UK, regardless of background or upbringing, have the opportunity to succeed in business”.
Other signatories include: HSBC, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Nestle, BP, Shell and E.on.