Black Lives Matter, still matter and have always mattered to SIB. Our Diversity Coordinator Ebru Buyukgul shares our ongoing and new internal initiatives and reiterates our commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
The murder of George Floyd in the US (and Elijah Mcclain, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and those before) and subsequent events have been traumatic for the black community. Racism is as systemic in the UK as the US – as any look at education, employment, health, or crime statistics, or recent events (like Windrush, Grenfell and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities) show us.
Much more needs to be done to combat systemic and institutional racism, not only in the US, but here in the UK. Now is the time to recognise the need to be allies and reflect, educate, and take action – not only as individuals – but on a wider level across civil society. This also means not only looking at ourselves here at SIB, but also at our peers and policy makers, to continue tackling structural inequalities and influencing a fairer funding structure for the organisations most in need.
At SIB, being a sector lead on equality, diversity and inclusion is one of our strategic objectives, and has started to become embedded across our internal processes, our decision making, and in our reporting. But we recognise this has moved too slowly, and that this alone is not enough and that we must strive to do more. Along with voicing our solidarity for the BLM movement, we have taken time to reflect, educate and act internally.
Here are some of our ongoing initiatives within SIB:
1. Processes and Training
Our annual performance review process involves all members of the team (which now includes at Board level) articulating their contribution to diversity within SIB.
Alongside this, both our team have participated in recent equality, diversity, and inclusion training, and we’re currently looking at what further education for the team, including our Board, could look like – both during induction for new members of the team and on an ongoing basis with our existing team.
We are a founding member and host of the Diversity Forum for Social Investment, and have signed up to its associating manifesto. In the words of the manifesto, we remain committed to the principle that diversity is not an end in itself, but a powerful means to collectively improve our work. Alongside this, SIB has been running our internal equality, diversity and inclusion working group since early 2019, which makes ongoing recommendations. One of the recommendations coming from the working group resulted in including equality, diversity and inclusion as part of our annual appraisal system, along with and reviewing and monitoring the tone of our communications – both internal and external.
Looking after the mental health of our team has long been a priority for us, but this is of particular importance for any of our black colleagues who may be experiencing trauma as a result of recent events. Our team have access to an Employee Assistance Programme via Health Assured, which provides counselling, trauma management within the workplace and wellbeing support. Our team also has several qualified designated first mental health first aiders, who are available for colleagues to turn to should they need it.
SIB has focused on being a host to projects with a focus on people and equalities. As well as being the current host of the Diversity Forum, we are also hosting the Equality Impact Investing Project (EIIP). We also ran the Diverse Ambitions pilot project, and are helping run the equalities strand of the Enterprise Development Programme.
We do believe that we must continue to do better. So, here is a quick look at further initiatives we are introducing:
1. Safe Spaces
We recognise the importance of safe spaces; they provide a place for healing and growth and offer the opportunity for marginalised groups to express themselves and raise any concerns without fear of criticism or judgement. They provide an opportunity to share common experiences and regain a sense of control. We have therefore created and launched our BAME network group, which is led by - and for - BAME colleagues only. Although the group will provide a confidential environment, suggestions raised during these network meetings will be anonymised and taken forward for review with our equality, diversity and inclusion working group.
SIB is committed to the value of hiring on merit alone – and the benefits of accessing diversity of talent. We will be using BeApplied for all our future recruitment rounds, which removes unconscious bias from the hiring process. Unconscious bias can take the form of ethnic or racial discrimination (take a look at the Sandra Bauer case study, for example). By removing the opportunity for these biases, we’re better able to consider candidates on merit alone. CVs are often poor predictors of whether a candidate would be good at the job, and can lead to hiring teams missing the most talented candidates. Through this process, we hope to build a much richer talent pool by focussing on passion, skills, and lived experience.
Our consciousness of diversity at Board and Director level continues, following recruitment of three new Board members last year, as we begin further recruitment for two new Board members over the coming weeks and months.
In our last impact report, we reported openly on our pay ratio, gender pay gap and the diversity of our team. To increase our transparency further, we are looking at other metrics to measure our current equality, diversity and inclusion and improvements we can make. For example, I will be carrying out a diversity and inclusion survey this summer. As in our last impact report, we will be publishing and continuing to publish these metrics annually and you can read these in our next impact report – due to be released this Autumn.
Crucially, as well as looking internally at equality, diversity, and inclusion, we will also be publishing more data on which kinds of organisations are applying to our funds and programmes, but also where they are and who leads them – we will be sharing much more of this in the weeks and months to come.