Black History Month: 4 things we’ve been working on

23 October 2020

This Black History Month, our Diversity Coordinator Ebru Buyukgul shares what we've been working on in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion, and explains why we should take this opportunity to think more about fairness and representation within the social investment sector and how we can continue to drive sector change. 

Black History Month (BHM), celebrated in October in the UK for over 30 years, provides an opportunity for people to continue listening, learning and educating themselves and others on the important contributions of black people throughout history. The events of this year have served as an important reminder that October shouldn’t be the only time for the UK to remember the achievements and struggles of black people.

The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated equality, diversity and inclusion must be prioritised for organisations. Here at SIB, our priority is providing finance to create fairer communities: putting our people first is a key part of that. Here’s what we’ve been working on since our last blog…

1. Internal and external reporting

In our forthcoming impact report, we will be transparent about our pay ratio, gender pay gap and the diversity of our team and for the first time our diversity pay gap. To increase our transparency further, we are looking at other metrics to measure our current equality, diversity and inclusion and improvements we can make. This includes a comprehensive internal survey that will enable us to better understand important issues on equality, diversity and inclusion amongst our whole team and strengthen our existing data. As well as looking at diversity, we will be assessing belonging and values. Externally, SIB 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 our upcoming impact report.

2. Prioritising equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion remains an ongoing priority for us. Our internal EDI Working Group and BAME Network continue to provide safe spaces to share common experiences and set the agenda for more diverse and inclusive practices within SIB.

Our thinking on hiring is informed by a fundamental belief that merit alone should be considered and that diversity of talent makes for richer experiences, workplaces, and decision-making. Since our last blog in June, we have implemented BeApplied across our recruitment which removes unconscious bias from the hiring process and instead focusses on passion, skills and lived experience.

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 because 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.

3. Working towards a more diverse and inclusive social investment sector

SIB is proud to be the current host of the Diversity Forum, which was set up in 2017 to improve diversity among social investors in the UK and to strive for a more inclusive social investment sector. Through the convening of sector-wide groups, commissioning research and knowledge-sharing, the Forum has worked hard to help incorporate inclusive and equitable practices in the sector. Over the coming months, the Diversity Forum will be working with the Social Investment Forum (SIF) for the election process of the inaugural SIF Chair and Steering Committee, and as a strategic partner in the longer term. There is a disconnect in the socio-economic backgrounds of social investors making decisions, individuals running social services, and individuals seeking funding for their organisations – and this lack of diversity is more pronounced in social investor leadership. The Diversity Forum and SIF hope to work together to address this issue.

As well as being the current host of the Diversity Forum, SIB is  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.

4. Continuing to educate ourselves

There are a range of online events and activities taking place across the UK that you can participate and engage in remotely this month.

There are also plenty of programmes you can watch honouring BHM, including ITV’s recent Black History Month on ITV in which black culture is brought into focus and celebrated. For Netflix-subscribers, an entire Black Lives Matter category exists. Programmes include films and TV shows made by Black directors and producers, as well as a host of fascinating documentaries which explore Black history and the socio-economic problems that have arisen today as a result. At SIB, we have also created an internal resources pack to educate and engage our colleagues this month.

Black History Month is a time to give black history and culture the attention it deserves. It also provides a catalyst to think more about fairness and representation within the social investment sector, and how we can all play a more active role in driving sector change to ensure we better represent those organisations and communities we exist to serve.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

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