Equity Commitments

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at UnLtd

UnLtd finds, funds and supports social entrepreneurs to make a difference in the UK.

This support we offer includes grants and investment, one-to-one coaching and guidance, mentorship and legal advice opportunities. We carry out research, tell stories of social entrepreneurs and their impact, host events, and influence policy makers to create a supportive public environment for the incredible work of our social entrepreneurs.

We want UnLtd to be actively anti-oppression, and inclusive for all, in everything we do; we know we're not yet good enough.

We know that change is the result of action, not intention. In pursuit of this, we are reviewing and adapting every single aspect of the work we do - both our external support, and our internal operations. A few of the support and delivery changes we have made and those we are working on are outlined below.

We are striving towards equity and being anti-racist. This means changing our mindsets, processes, behaviours and culture to simultaneously focus on tackling both the root causes and the symptoms. Inclusion and equity must be part of the UnLtd DNA, woven into our identity through education, training and ongoing conversations to ensure it is embedded as the norm and never treated as an afterthought.

Social entrepreneurs are at the heart of all we do, and this is no exception. They are the guiding compass for our ongoing journey, alongside our hope to celebrate and support their diversity and strength.

It has always been our vision for the UK to be the best place to be a social entrepreneur. Part of this means every person with an idea for a socially impactful business should be supported to succeed. Equity and inclusion is integral to this vision.

To pursue change, we need to change our strategies too - we know that this work is not just the responsibility of a human resources department. This action and impetus for change belongs to all staff, in both its design and execution. Everyone representing UnLtd must be dedicated to understanding, learning, and applying the necessary behaviours to create an inclusive organisation.

Our goal is to ensure our working environment is equitable and safe for everyone who works with and for us.

Our actions regarding funding and support are as follows

  • For the past 2 years, we have committed 50% of our grants to social entrepreneurs who identify as being Black, Asian, from a minority ethnic background and/or Disabled across all of our grant giving. This commitment continues. Underscoring this is a particular focus on supporting social entrepreneurs with lived experience of the issue they are working to solve.

  • Each decision-making panel for our grant funding is made up of 4 people, a panel of both staff and social entrepreneurs. 1 staff member as chair (no decision-making power), 1 staff panel member  and 2 social entrepreneurs also as panel members. Majority vote (decision maker) is with the entrepreneurs. Two of our panel members are Black, Asian, minority ethnic and or disabled and or a leader with lived experience, reflecting both our inclusion commitments and impact areas.

  • Our scoring system for funding applications has been redesigned through an equity lens to address the influence of societal disadvantages which imbalance the application process. We acknowledge that a funding application is not a full and accurate representation of somebody’s ability to create social change. Our scorecard now specifically includes: lived experience, identity and culture, the need and diversity of the communities they are supporting. For established organisations we also ask for a commitment to diversity in governance. Our highest scoring criteria are now inclusion, followed by impact, and sustainability.

  • We no longer categorise communities as “hard to reach”. We are proactively working in paid partnerships with Black, Asian, minority ethnic and/or disabled members of the social enterprise community to identify people who need funding and support the most and are the least likely to engage with us. Our communications strategy includes engaging with and listening to these communities we are currently too distanced from, proactively inviting and supporting them to apply for our funding and support.

  • To increasingly diversify our grant giving, this applies to our partnerships too. It is our responsibility to use our position in the sector and our networks to model and influence proactive behaviours and ensure our partners and suppliers are:

    • a) aligned with both our values and impact goals as well as our inclusion targets and plans

    • b) better representing the communities and entrepreneurs we want to support.

  • We have designed and developed a new £25m social investment fund with an ambition to tackle inequality in the UK – The Growth Impact Fund. A minimum of 50% of the fund’s investees will be diverse led, investing in leaders who have been historically underrepresented in the social investment sector. In partnership with Shift and Big Issue Invest, we are directly tackling the barriers we know diverse-led organisations face when accessing investment.

Our actions regarding our working environment and internal organisation are as follows

Our pursuit of equity and an anti-oppression approach was grounded in a staff-led initiative to positively develop our mindsets, processes, behaviours and culture. We have now formed an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (EDIB) Steering Committee, with trustees and members representing multiple directorates and experiences. We have designed an inclusion-first framework to apply to all our work, and are now working to achieve these goals.

This work is an ongoing and continuous learning journey for our organisation. In summary we have:

  • Created a three-year inclusive learning plan for our staff. To create and maintain a respectful, inclusive environment where our colleagues and community feel they belong, this learning focuses on understanding marginalised experiences and the necessary behavioural changes the organisation and individuals need to make.

  • We commissioned an independent Equity Audit because we knew that our actions, systems, and behaviours had contributed to racial inequity and other unfairness, impacting on the experiences and progression of our employees, and the way we work with social entrepreneurs.

  • As a result of our Equity Audit, we could see that people of colour, particularly Black colleagues, and Disabled colleagues were experiencing bias and discrimination and so have focused our work in these areas. We could also see we needed to get better at collecting data to better understand other areas of oppression and intersectionality to continue to inform our approach and focus. Ongoing inclusion learning and application means that we will continue to review and consider how equity and inclusion is represented across an employee’s journey with UnLtd.

  • We developed an action plan which we shared publicly in September 2021, focusing on four areas that required deep change at UnLtd.

    • Embed equitable behaviors in our leadership, governance, and accountability

    • Improve policies, processes, and data to ensure accessibility, equity, and inclusivity

    • Build the skills, mindset, and environment so we create a culture of inclusion, belonging and authenticity

    • Identify, recruit, and retain the best talent to drive UnLtd’s success as a leader of impact and inclusion

  • We are committed to accountability and transparency on our inclusion goals. In October 2022 we published a report that shares our commitments, progress and learning so far. We hope you will find it thoughtful and reflective, taking a celebratory and challenging eye to the work the organisation has done (and left undone).

  • We will continue to share annual updates of our journey.  

  • The steps we have taken are important, but the long-term commitment to this journey is what matters the most.  We will continue to pave and develop our brick road as we listen to the communities we work with.

Equity Reports

Diversity Forum

We are pleased to announce we have just signed the Diversity Forum’s new Manifesto. Together we hope to work towards a more inclusive social investment sector for all.

Read more

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