ED&I: The Year Ahead

Last month I blogged about our progress over the last 12 months in our work on developing equity, diversity and inclusion within social investment.  

This blog outlines our priorities for the year ahead. These are baked into our strategy and operational plans, and build on the progress made and the commitments we have made both as part of the Quadrennial Review response and as outlined in our joint report with SIB and Power to Change. 

  • Improving data collection: This is relatively simple for new or recent programmes. Collecting data on the protected characteristics of the leaders of beneficiary organisations is now in place for all live programmes with the exception of the Growth Fund.  

(As outlined in the update last year, this is not something which was designed in to the Growth Fund from the start.  Introducing such reporting requirements retrospectively did not feel like a proportionate response given the additional burden it would place on borrowers from the programme, and given that the programme does not have long left to run.)  

Effective data collection is clearly a necessary condition of being able to monitor and understand our progress on this agenda. For new Local Access partnerships and other future programmes this requirement will be designed in from the beginning.  

  • Incentivising delivery partners to reach minoritised communities: As outlined above this is a core objective of the Flexible Finance programme and monitoring frameworks are in place for approved funds to track their achievements. For other existing programmes we are taking further action. As outlined above, in EDP we are starting to track more routinely issues of underrepresentation and take more positive remedial action where necessary. Reach Fund will track performance on the fund as a whole and, as described above, is using the allocation mechanism to incentivise investors (Access Points) to demonstrate that they can reach different communities.  
  • Developing new programmes to reach minoritised communities: As outlined above, new proposals are continuing to be received for the Flexible Finance programme, many of which have a focus on reaching minoritised communities. The amendments outlined above to existing programmes will also support this goal. 
  • Developing investment policies to highlight and progress Equity Diversity and Inclusion: This has been most extensively done on the Flexible Finance programme, and we have learned a significant amount from doing so. Future blended finance programmes will incorporate lessons from this process in how we integrate ED&I objectives in the investment policy.  
  • Using our improved data to understand the points in the process where specific barriers exist for minoritised ethnic communities and removing those barriers: As outlined above this has been an area of continual improvement, especially on EDP over the last year. This trend will continue across other programmes.  
  • Reviewing our own governance and decision-making processes and structures, and those of our delivery partners: We have greatly benefitted from bringing new members on to the Flexible Finance investment committee (FFIC) to strengthen our decision making. We will review the mandate of the FFIC and consider whether it may have a broader role across other Access programmes. We will continue to seek to enhance the diversity of our board, including through the current recruitment process. Assessing the governance and decision making processes of partners has become a standard part of the due diligence process for Flexible Finance and will be expanded to other programmes.  
  • Report in progress: We will continue to openly share our progress on these goals via our blog, our dashboard, and with our partners. 


We have made some progress over the last year but I am very aware that Access has more work to do to help drive equity, diversity and inclusion across social investment. If you have a perspective you would like to share, or any comments or questions then please get in touch. seb.elsworth@access-si.org.uk