Earlier on this year, I took on the role of Diversity Champion at Big Society Capital, building on the fantastic work of my predecessor Camilla Parke. My role involves working with various parts of the organisation to co-ordinate the approach being taken on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and to ensure we stay on track with our ambitions. This topic is of massive importance to me given that I am also the Chair of the Diversity Forum (which was setup to look at the challenge of representation within the social impact investment sector) and that I am acutely aware of how easy it can be to slip into tokenistic measures.
We previously shared the three principles that guide our EDI approach and have been developing our work in this area as a key part of Big Society Capital’s 2025 strategy. Earlier this year, we developed our EDI plan that outlines our approach over the next 5 years.
Our EDI plan is designed to cut across our different business functions – ranging from how we make investments, engage different stakeholders and how we can become a truly inclusive employer. As part of our efforts to being transparent about our EDI goals we have published our EDI plan in a downloadable format. It is worth noting that this plan is not the end destination for our ambitions, it is instead designed to provide an insight on the journey we are looking to take where we will listen, learn, adapt, make mistakes and hopefully bring about long-lasting changes to the way we function as a business.
Currently our plan rests on three focus areas - People and Culture, Engagement and Market Building and Investment and Portfolio. I have provided some high-level thoughts on some of the things we are working towards below:
People and Culture
We want to be an inclusive employer that attracts the best talent from all walks of life, while building an inclusive culture internally. Some of the work we are looking to do within this space is to publish an Ethnicity Pay Gap report for Big Society Capital and launch a reverse mentoring scheme designed to enable our senior leaders to understand different perspectives across teams and for junior staff members to have an opportunity to understand and be heard by more senior management. Furthermore, we will continue to work with and support initiatives in the social investment sector such as the Diversity Forum and the 2027 programme.
Engagement and Market Building
As you would have seen from our 2025 strategy, we are looking to scale the size of the social impact investment market. An important aspect of this is to find ways in which social impact investment can better reach different geographies and diverse communities that have found it difficult to access social impact investment. We will continue to build on the great work already started with the Addressing Imbalance programme. This has already resulted in powerful initiatives such as our recent update of the Outcomes Matrix to support frontline organisations in understanding how equality and equity can play a role in measuring impact.
Investment and Portfolio
Our work here will revolve around how we embed EDI practices into the way we make our investments, collect data and develop investment strategies that take an equity-based approach. This will see us work closely with initiatives such as the Equality Impact Investing Project as well as the fund managers that we work with and support.
We are on a journey and would welcome you to come along with us as we learn, iterate and ultimately bring about long-lasting change to improve the way we do business as well as the wider social investment sector. We would welcome feedback and thoughts on our plan and also to partner and work with others in the sector where we can learn together. We are looking forward to sharing where we are with our plan at the end of this year and hopefully celebrating some progress as well and some lessons that we have learnt along the way.