In a world where meaningful change often starts with a commitment, Charity Bank embarked on a transformative journey towards Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).
Our pursuit of a more inclusive and representative future did not begin with the signing of the Diversity Manifesto in 2022. Instead, it was an evolution driven by a deep-rooted passion for creating positive societal change. Diversity isn't merely a goal—it's integral to our identity. This blog takes you through Charity Bank's EDI journey, emphasising the need for continued progress, exploring the reasons for our commitment, some of the partners who joined us, the process we followed, the progress we've made, and the potential for an even more inclusive and equitable future.
At Charity Bank, our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is not just a recent development. Before signing the Diversity Forum Manifesto in 2022, we were already on a path to enhance our EDI practices. However, the tragic events of 2020, including the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, reinforced the need for a more organised approach. Our EDI journey was born out of a desire to make a meaningful impact both internally and externally. We recognised the challenges of representation and inclusion within our organisation and the broader sector, and we aimed to address these issues head-on.
Collaboration is at the heart of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) journey. We’ve teamed up with exceptional partners to bolster our efforts:
- Umbrella HR conducts annual diversity surveys, providing invaluable insights.
- Diversity Trust delivers crucial training to our team, enhancing our understanding of EDI.
- Applied recruitment platform combats bias, fostering diversity among our hires.
- The Social Investment Consultancy (TSIC) conducts independent EDI audits, and is helping to refine our action plan, and craft our EDI vision statement, aligning with our EDI goals.
Our partnership with Access – The Foundation for Social Investment has given rise to the Lending Equal Access Programme (LEAP), a flexible loan initiative with fewer security requirements, often unsecured. LEAP, launched in March 2023, has already committed 43% of its funding, addressing the demand for flexible social funding, particularly among diverse-led enterprises.
Simultaneously, we’re working to implement EDI principles into our lending procedures and marketing strategies, promoting a more equitable social sector. Marti Del Rosario spearheads our outreach plan, aiming to expand Charity Bank’s footprint in underserved communities through partnerships with organisations including Women’s Aid, Leicester Social Enterprise Consortium, and Do It Now Now. Together, we’re advancing towards a more inclusive and representative future.
The process of signing the Diversity Forum Manifesto was a logical next step for us. We had already established an internal working group dedicated to EDI initiatives. Our engagement with the Diversity Forum provided guidance and structure for our commitments. We held discussions to identify realistic yet ambitious goals. Challenges were present, but with the guidance of external partners including Salma and the Diversity Forum, we navigated them successfully. Importantly, our team members and the board played a crucial role in shaping our commitments, demonstrating their dedication to the cause.
Since signing the Diversity Manifesto, Charity Bank has made significant progress in its EDI journey. It led to the appointment of Mwansa Phiri as our dedicated EDI lead and coordinator, a pivotal role within our organisation. Our commitment is now embedded in our business strategy, where we focus on impactful lending and investment practices and we have integrated diversity- targets into our impact measurement and core KPIs. Our LEAP program, designed to support underserved communities, reflects our dedication to systemic change. We have revitalised our diversity working group, encouraging participation from all levels of the organisation. Additionally, our mandatory use of a diverse recruitment platform has become a successful standard practice.
It's essential to acknowledge that progress comes with its share of challenges. We have learned from our experiences, and continuous improvement remains a core principle. While we have made strides, we recognise there is still much work to be done. We are committed to addressing every principle and action outlined in the Diversity Manifesto, even if it means confronting difficult truths and areas where we have fallen short.
As we look to the future, there are several areas where we see potential for improvement. Firstly, we believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the sector. We intend to make full use of the multiple partners listed in this blog and we pledge transparency in sharing our own journey—highlighting both our achievements and the obstacles we face. Our aspiration is to actively contribute to propelling the social investment sector and the broader social sector forward, setting a precedent for what can be accomplished.
We highly endorse the pivotal role of the Diversity Forum in guiding organisations along their EDI pathways. To all those engaged in the realm of social investment, we wholeheartedly recommend their participation in this forum as an invaluable resource.
Lastly, individual wellbeing within organisations is essential. Ensuring the wellbeing of our employees fosters a more inclusive and diverse workplace is one of our strategic goals. We will continue to invest in EDI training, awareness, and open dialogue to create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
In conclusion, Charity Bank's commitment to EDI is an ongoing journey. While we have made progress since signing the Diversity Manifesto in 2022, we recognise that we are just at the beginning of this journey, there is much more work to be done. Together with our partners, our team, and our sector, we aspire to create lasting change that reflects the true diversity and inclusivity we envision. We remain committed to pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve, with humility and a deep understanding that our work is far from complete.
- Latest EDI Survey Results and Social Impact Report: Charity Bank's latest EDI survey results and impact data relating to both its charity and social loan customers, as well as the makeup of its team, are available in our 2023 Social Impact Report.
- Gender Equality Commitment: As part of our EDI efforts, Charity Bank also joined the Women in Finance Charter, reaffirming our commitment to gender equality and inclusivity in the workplace. As part of this commitment, we have set targets for female representation at the board and management levels. We believe that achieving gender balance is essential for creating a truly diverse and inclusive environment.