Why we’ve signed the Diversity Forum Manifesto

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Charity Bank has signed the Diversity Forum’s Manifesto 2.0 as part of its commitment to improve equity, diversity and inclusion, both in the bank’s operations as well as the wider social investment sector.

What is the Diversity Forum?

The Diversity Forum emerged out of important discussions held at The Gathering of UK social investors in 2017 about the need to improve diversity in the sector. Since then, the Forum has grown to encompass sector-wide initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion among social investors in the UK; this includes the Diversity Champions network, commissioning research and recently publishing their revised Manifesto.

It was the Diversity Forum’s pioneering report in 2019 that became one of the first studies in the UK to document the worrying lack of diversity in the UK social investment sector. Since then, they have continued to work with the sector to address this issue, most recently with the launch of their revised Manifesto to hold organisations accountable for their EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) goals.

Identifying the lack of diversity

In 2017, Big Society Capital and the Social Impact Investors Group joined together to conduct a rapid survey on diversity and equality. This survey formed a baseline for a comparative study the following year as part of the Diversity Forum’s 2019 Inclusive Social Investment Sector Report, completed by Inclusive Boards.

The results showed that diversity had not improved since 2017 and in many instances had decreased. The report found that there was a lack of diverse representation across the ethnicity, gender, disability, and socioeconomic backgrounds of those working within social investment.

Findings from this research suggested that the social investment sector may not be recruiting or retaining the best people for the work they are undertaking and indicated that a lack of diverse representation can influence how finance is allocated.

The need to increase diversity

By increasing the diversity, inclusion, and representation within the social investment sector, social investors will be better positioned to combat the exclusivity and outsider-ness that can be felt by those seeking social investment.

Additionally, a more inclusive sector will increase the pipeline of investible organisations, better enabling investors to deploy their capital.

Increasing the diversity of people who work in the social investment sector, particularly those at investment committee and Board level, will lead to improved decision making and will better position social investors to reach Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations that are currently underserved by social investment.

Ultimately, improving diversity and inclusion within the social investment sector should also lead to improved social impact.

What is the Diversity Forum Manifesto?

The Diversity Forum Manifesto is a means to address the need for greater equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion in the social investment sector as highlighted by the 2019 report.

The manifesto is a proactive and public way of getting signatories to act and involves informal quarterly check-ins and annual reporting from those that are involved in order to ensure accountability and a consistent focus on their inclusion goals.

By working collaboratively with other organisations within the social investment sector, signatories will be held accountable for the actions they pledge to take and will have access to support from the Diversity Forum as well as fellow signatories.

Why Charity Bank have signed the Diversity Forum Manifesto

Charity Bank’s vision is for a society that fosters vibrant communities and a healthy planet, giving every individual the opportunity to thrive. To make this vision a reality, we know there is more work that needs to be done to increase diversity and representation within the social investment sector, and we recognise that the best place to start is in our own organisation. With better balance and representation amongst decision makers we hope to improve our reach into communities that have been historically underserved.

Signing the Diversity Forum Manifesto is Charity Bank’s pledge to continue to strive for equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion as a social lender and as an employer.

What does the Manifesto include?

The Manifesto includes seven pledges and 10 suggested initial actions which organisations are expected to take in the first six months. The seven commitments ensure organisations are taking ownership of their commitment to equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion, create meaningful collaborations, build an inclusive culture, be open and transparent, invest in equitable representation, engage in sustainable inclusion, and advocate for marginalised voices.

Initial actions include creating an equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion policy agreed at Board level, reporting on gender and ethnicity pay gaps both internally and transparently online and ensuring that all policies are inclusive.

Signatories are also asked to set realistic one-year goals and to report on their progress annually.

In signing the Manifesto Charity Bank has agreed to…

Diversity Forum Manifesto 2.0

For more information on the Diversity Forum and the Diversity Forum Manifesto you can visit their website https://www.diversityforum.org.uk/

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About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,100 loans totalling over £400m to housing, education, social care, community, and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.