Towards Inclusive Social Investment – we have signed up to the Diversity Forum

We are proud to share that we have signed up to The Diversity Forum.

The Diversity Forum is a collective within the UK Social Investment Sector, on a mission to drive inclusive social investment in the UK, through the convening of sector-wide groups, commissioning research, and knowledge sharing.

The Manifesto that we have signed up to is practical and sets out a path for us. Described as ‘a bold new way to address equity, equality, diversity and inclusion in the social investment sector’, it consists of  7 clear commitments to report on annually and 10 initial actions to get started on in the first six months.

We are sharing this with you not just to demonstrate our commitment to equity, equality, diversity and inclusion but also to ask you to hold us accountable and support us on our journey to get there.

Hopefully with these 7 commitments, you will feel empowered to challenge us and work with us to improve our systems and process, redistribute power and resources and work collaboratively and openly to a more equitable, inclusive and diverse future.

This Manifesto has been signed by the staff team and board. We have nominated Anne Wilks to lead on this and she will be liaising directly with the Diversity Forum.

We’re really proud to be doing this. We’d like to say that we’ve been ahead of the curve with the shift in focusing on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) – who wouldn’t? – but the reality is that we have operated in broadly the same way as our sector. Historically, the majority of our lending has been to groups mostly made up of white, able bodied people, fairly typical of the co-op and community business space. Our team and Trustees have largely been the same, though we have focused on consciously increasing our diversity in recent years.

There has been a lot of talk over the years in our sector about why people from certain backgrounds or deprived communities don’t come forward, or start the types of businesses we support. We are aware that people facing multiple oppressions have more – many more – blocks on the pathways to social ventures and so the time has come for us to stop asking why, and start changing from within.

We are in the process of educating ourselves. Ultimately, we hope to be able to create new financial products that reflect the needs of those not currently accessing our services. That is a little way off yet  – but every journey starts with a single step. We’ve taken our first, second and third steps – we look forward to sharing more on our journey as we take it.