If we’re to take the Inclusive Britain agenda seriously, action towards equity is needed

Tom Sheppard

Digital Manager

24th March 2022

11:58am

...

Last year, we criticised the Sewell report’s downplaying of structural racism in its diagnosis of the challenges facing Britons from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

In its response to the report released last week, the Government has claimed “to promote equality of opportunity and encourage aspiration by nurturing agency – showing the path to success and removing personal and structural barriers which block the way.” And yet, substantive plans to address these barriers are lacking in the report.

Actions speak louder than words. If we’re to take this ambition seriously, and trust the Government to deliver on it, we need them to commit much more deeply. We would like to see the Government set out how it will use its power to shift, not just opportunity, but also outcomes for those who have been historically and systemically held back from achieving their potential.

At UnLtd, we agree that nurturing human potential is critical to solving the major challenges of our time – racism, inequality, and the climate crisis among them. Social entrepreneurs have demonstrated that they have the resilience, ingenuity and lived experiences to create a more inclusive economy. They are creating meaningful jobs, serious about the environment, and representative of Britain’s brilliantly diverse communities. 

And yet, the Inclusive Britain report fails to include them. To equip entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds with the skills they need to build successful businesses, it is not enough to deliver standalone partnerships, such as the one mentioned in the report. Entrepreneurs need all funders, investors and intermediaries to transform their approach, so that they can lead with equity.

The Diversity Forum’s Manifesto 2.0, which we have committed to, demonstrates the kind of behavioural change that’s needed at the organisational, not individual, level. It promotes ongoing action, such as reviewing of funding processes from end-to-end for bias, putting equity, diversity and inclusion as a standing agenda on every Board and committee meeting, and actively participating in the EDI movement as an ally.

In our view that also means acknowledging the diverse pool of talent that is currently being overlooked for market opportunities and social investment, making step changes which enable these leaders to scale their solutions to tackling inequality. This is the driving force of the potential £25m Growth Impact Fund we are developing alongside social entrepreneurs and our partners, Big Issue Invest and Shift.

For a better evidenced take on the problem - with some clear solutions, we urge the Government to adopt the recommendations in the Adebowale commission on social investment, which shone an uncompromising light on the work that needs to be done in our sector.

As Halima Begum from the Runnymede Trust powerfully states in her piece for the Guardian, the Inclusive Britain report has come out in a week that has once again demonstrated the harm done to communities of colour in the name of the state. We offer our solidarity to those affected and look forward to being part of the solution.

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