Access wants to see an investment eco-system that works for all charities and social enterprises. This means harnessing all of the diverse talent seeking to deliver impact in communities. It requires an investment ecosystem which is able to deliver equitable outcomes for communities impacted by injustice and inequality and the charities and social enterprises that support them.
This work is fundamentally about shifting imbalances in power, perspectives and opportunities and building a culture of equal recognition and belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of everyone we work with.
As the people ultimately responsible for Access as an organisation, our trustee board is responsible for our work on equity, diversity and inclusion and CEO, Seb Elsworth, leads on implementation. We are grateful to a range of people and organisations across the social investment ecosystem who have led the way on this agenda – not least the Diversity Forum which exists to drive inclusive social investment in the UK.
We know we have much to learn and recognise that tackling injustice and inequality in all its forms is not a tick-box exercise and something that requires ongoing commitment, attention and resource.
Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and action plan
Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and action plan sets out in detail our approach – it recognises our own influence and power (and its limitations), not only in relation to the organisation itself but also our social investment and delivery partners, the charities and social enterprises they work with and the communities they serve. It builds on the work we have done to date and the work of our partners across the social investment ecosystem – set out here in more detail on the Access blog.
As a national wholesaler of funding into the social investment market we have a leadership role to play in championing and realising a truly equitable, diverse and inclusive social investment sector. We think that this leadership role means being open about what we want to achieve and how we will achieve it, inviting feedback and learning as we go, sharing what is working and what is not.
In addition to a more detailed action plan for internal purposes, we have developed the below 10 priority commitments to ensure we are transparent and accountable. It is worth noting that green doesn’t mean ‘done’ and red isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm – we have plans in place to address each measure and have set a direction of travel but are using the traffic light rating to rate where we have made tangible progress.
Access commissioned Small Change to implement our first Equity, Diversity and Inclusion monitoring exercise, as part of our implementation of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and action plan. This involved undertaking an independently facilitated diversity audit of Access’ decision-makers and broader staff team.
We consider the decision-makers at Access to consist of our Board, investment committees (including co-opted members), and the staff team. The board has up to 12 members who should have experience in various fields (finance, accounting and/or investment; the social sector; and grant-making or charitable foundations) and should reflect the demographics of the population of England as a whole.
In addition, membership of investment and other decision-making committees can be broadened beyond Access trustees to include co-opted members who bring particular lived and learned experience.
We also aim for the Access team to have diverse lived and learned experience relevant to their various different job roles.
The diversity audit focussed on the make-up of the Access Board, our Blended Finance Investment Committee and the Staff Team. The framework for the audit is the ‘protected characteristics’ defined in the Equality Act (2010) plus some measures of social class. This then guides the comparison with the census data on the population of England. The online survey had a 100% completion rate, although all the results are vulnerable to both staff turnover and the small number of total respondents.
Since Access works in England, the average demographics of England were chosen as a benchmark to compare the results of the audit to. We are conscious that this is only a starting point, and will keep reviewing whether this benchmark is sufficient.
Below are the results from the first audit which was conducted in February 2023 and will be repeated annually. In publishing the data from our diversity audit we aim to balance transparency with the privacy and personal data of the wider Access team. Access is a small team, and we are therefore sharing some of the data aggregated across the whole team, and some data split between staff and Board/Investment Committee.