More than a manifesto: practical steps to make social investment more inclusive


Written by

Stephen Muers, Chief Executive Officer

At Big Society Capital, we are aiming to incorporate equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) into everything we do. At the end of last year, we published our EDI plan to ensure that we are transparent about our aims and the journey we are on. A key part of our approach is to engage with initiatives across the wider social investment sector: we know that we can’t make change happen on our own. Therefore, we are delighted to announce that we have now signed up to the new Diversity Forum Manifesto which was launched earlier this year. It is a charter for the sector to commit and hold itself accountable to goals around making social investors more representative of the communities they are looking to serve. We had originally signed up to the first Diversity Forum Manifesto which was launched a few years ago and have welcomed this new, more ambitious and detailed version. I’m pleased that we are joining those who have already signed up and to see that we are on course to generate far more signatories compared to the first manifesto.

So, what does this new manifesto mean for us and how does it feature as part of our broader plans? Firstly, getting formal approval to sign the new manifesto was an excellent opportunity to ensure our board was bought in to what we are doing and that these commitments on EDI form part of our core mission. Secondly, we welcome the new manifesto’s more robust structure and the fact that it comes along with seven pledges and 10 initial actions for investors to take in the first six months that will ensure we are held to account and have something to report on both to key stakeholders and the wider sector. I am very conscious that some of the actions will not be easy, and will only be meaningful if we work with others, especially fund managers we invest with, to implement them effectively. Finally, we are keen to join a community of other social investors who have signed up to the new manifesto and bring about more meaningful collaboration when it comes to EDI within social investment and promote more transparency. A key part to bringing about meaningful change in the sector will be around how we can all work together to learn, reflect and share knowledge and approaches.

We encourage all social investors to look at the manifesto if they have not done so already and to consider signing it. As has rightly been pointed out by many people across the sector, including the recent Adebowale Commission, now is the time to take practical steps that will lead to change. Signing the manifesto is not in itself an achievement, but a moment to renew and refresh our ambition. We look forward to providing more updates on our progress and to working with initiatives such as the Diversity Forum to make social investment more inclusive, open and representative.