At Social Finance we are fundamentally dedicated to realigning social and economic systems to enable people of all identities and experiences to thrive. To achieve our mission, we must acknowledge and address the inequality, oppression, and racism that has long existed within our society. Simply put, we believe that a deep and enduring commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to realizing a richer, more just world. As we act on our commitments, we welcome all views and beliefs that lead people to work with us in good faith to end racial disparities and inequality more broadly.
We believe our DEI efforts must address both how we operate internally as an organization, and how we operate externally through our work. DEI has to be part of both who we are and what we do.
What This Means For Us Organizationally
Our DEI work is prioritized internally because our people are our most valuable resource. By building a team whose members have diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives, we can collectively brighten our ideas, deepen our insights, and amplify our impact.
Providing an equitable and supportive environment where people can lead with their strengths and be empowered and successful enables our team to thrive. An inclusive culture that allows for the open and respectful sharing of different approaches and ideas across the organization, and supports continuous learning and growth, makes it possible for us to evolve and adapt to better serve our mission and, ultimately, have lasting impact.
Reflecting on our DEI Journey
In 2022, we launched and advanced multiple DEI workstreams tied to our DEI Action Plan. This article reflects on our progress and preview what’s next as we work toward our vision of a world where social and economic systems enable all people to thrive.
What This Means For Our Work in Communities
To truly achieve our mission, we have to incorporate DEI into all facets of our work.
We must design and implement action-oriented partnerships and investments that remove systemic barriers to access and opportunity. We must incorporate community expertise to develop and refine solutions that translate to long-term impact. We must work with our partners, across sectors, to ensure DEI is central to every engagement, understanding that the greatest impact is achieved through collaboration. And we must remain cognizant of how Social Finance navigates in the world as an impact finance and advisory organization to make certain we are leveraging our talent, tools and resources in a way that is consistent with our DEI beliefs.
As we commit to the next chapters in our DEI journey, we acknowledge that we have not, nor will we, always get it right the first time, and that we have a long way to go. We are committed to moving forward with humility; open, reflective minds; kind hearts; steadfast dedication; and the courage to fail. At a fundamental level, we recognize the common humanity and equal value in all people, and accordingly work to improve outcomes and provide opportunities for those impacted by poverty, racism and inequality. We commit to holding ourselves accountable to our DEI principles and the goals set out in our DEI strategy knowing that this work is vital in achieving our mission.
Recognizing the Value of Community Voice
Partnerships and investments that deliver real impact for people and communities often hinge on participant engagement. When connecting with participants to gather their reflections, it’s important to recognize this essential input for what it actually is: lived expertise worthy of fair compensation.
Our DEI Definitions
We understand that diversity manifests in observable and unobservable ways, and that diversity across all dimensions of identity, thought, belief, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, economic status, ethnicity, citizenship status, lived experience and beyond makes us stronger.
Within Social Finance, we strive to build a team whose members come from a wide array of backgrounds, with diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives that will improve our work and deepen and broaden our impact on the communities we serve. We must also proactively investigate our gaps in representation and work to fill them.
Externally, we seek to cultivate partnerships and investments that enable economic and social participation across diverse populations, particularly for people disproportionately affected by systemic inequality and the disparities in access to opportunity it creates.
We believe equity is achieved when everyone can prosper and thrive, and positive outcomes are not correlated with specific backgrounds, identities, statuses or experiences.
Within Social Finance, we strive to support every individual team member and help guide them toward success, knowing people have different strengths and contribute to our work and mission in different ways. We must do this by providing training and development opportunities and fostering a safe and collaborative work environment where everyone is free to share their unique perspectives, lead with their strengths, and focus on doing their best work.
Externally, we seek to pursue projects that address disparities in access and opportunity created by the individuals and institutions propping up systemic inequality. We know that different populations have different experiences and outcomes based solely on their backgrounds and identities. We must work to end these disparities across all facets of life, from our health care system to our environment, understanding that we are uniquely positioned to affect such change.
We believe everyone should be heard, respected, supported, and valued.
Within Social Finance, we strive to create a culture of openness, empowerment, curiosity, belonging, kindness and integrity. We commit to creating an environment where all staff members, especially those disproportionately affected by systemic inequality, are free to use the full richness of their experiences and ideas to advance our work and deepen our impact. Finally, we seek to proactively take responsibility for the impact of our words and actions, to be open to feedback and continuous learning, to give each other grace and assume positive intent, and to operate with deep respect for others.
Externally, we must actively and intentionally engage the people and communities we serve to ensure all stakeholders, most especially program participants, have a say in how our partnerships and investments are designed, managed, and shared. Inclusivity is essential to our work, which is focused on bringing together partners over shared visions and values, and collaborating with an eye always toward impact.
Our DEI Action Committee
The DEI Action Committee leads, owns, monitors, and is accountable for all DEI efforts at Social Finance. The committee is composed of seven standing members, whose job roles include DEI responsibilities, and six rotating members from all levels of the organization who are chosen through a formal selection process and commit to minimum terms of six months.