Social Investment Business

Social Investment Business

/ Diversity, Funded projects, Grants

Project: Diversity Forum – embedding and expanding

Grant: £29,000

This project aims to carry on the work of the Diversity Forum (DF) to address the lack of diversity within social investment intermediaries. In this second phase of the project, Social Investment Business (SIB) will host the DF initiative and champion the need for greater diversity in the sector. The objective of the DF is make social investment intermediaries better reflect and represent the people and communities they are set up to serve.

As part of the previous phase of the project, supported by the Connect Fund, the DF worked with Inclusive Boards. This research found that: 1) BAME women are the least likely to hold directorships in social investment (just 2.8%); 2) There is a significant socio-economic challenge for social investment: 18% of Board Directors went to Cambridge or Oxford; 40% of Directors and 33% of executives went to fee-paying schools; 3) male executives outnumber female executives in social investment by 3:2; 4) female directors and executives are more likely to come from the charity sector, rather than the financial sector.

The DF has also brought individual organisational barriers to the surface: leadership programmes which are not inclusive; undeveloped career progression work; lack of information and awareness about diversity; lack of training for teams and boards on equality, diversity and inclusion; and practical challenges relating to recruitment.

SIB will employ a full-time co-ordinator for the DF to build on the foundations and activities of this network. There is the scope for the DF to be more ambitious to amplify communications and influencing; convene and co-ordinate with other diversity projects; grow the Diversity Champions Network; and develop practical routes to progress diversity and inclusion in the sector. In terms of outputs the DF will convene: 3-4 meetings of the Diversity Champions Network; 3-4 Steering Group meetings; and 3 meetings of the HR Network.

If the DF is effective, social investment intermediaries will become more open and inclusive of individuals from different gender, class, ethnicity, age and educational backgrounds. Social investment intermediaries will have access to a wider pool of talent, a greater range of perspectives, and diversity to strengthen their teams and boards, ensuring that institutions are more reflective of and accountable to the communities they are set up to serve. As a result, we can expect social investment products and programmes to be more informed by a wide range of perspectives, more accessible, and well-designed to suit the needs of charities and social enterprises and their beneficiaries.