A group of people putting their hands together in a circle.


Reflecting on our DEI Journey

Social Finance

Key Takeaway

In 2022, we launched and advanced multiple DEI workstreams tied to our DEI Action Plan.

A year has passed since we launched our formal DEI Action Plan, a multiyear strategy meant to strengthen our internal culture to support our people, and refine our field practices to more effectively spark measurable change in our communities.

In the spirit of integrity and performance, two values that have guided us since our founding, we want to reflect 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.

Mapping our DEI journey

Social Finance was founded in 2011 to develop new tools at the intersection of finance and public policy to help address some of our most pressing social challenges, from economic inequality to health and housing disparities—challenges all linked to systemic oppression. 

While grassroots DEI efforts had been unfolding internally for some time, we started intentionally and explicitly connecting our mission and practices to the principles of DEI in 2019 when we created a DEI function as part of a larger effort to boost our people and talent systems. This work gained momentum and grew in scale during the early days of the pandemic and culminated in our DEI Action Plan, which we developed and launched with support from the DEI consultancy, Promise54.

The plan spans five strategic areas:

  1. Supporting DEI accountability 
  2. Aligning and communicating on DEI 
  3. Expanding DEI capacity and engagement
  4. Recruiting and hiring
  5. Talent systems and supports

Assessing our progress   

In 2022, we launched and advanced individual DEI workstreams tied to each of our five strategic areas.

Supporting DEI accountability

In February, we convened our inaugural DEI Action Committee, a cross-functional working group of teammates from all levels of the organization formally responsible for managing our DEI Action Plan. Members went to work developing organizational DEI goals, which were published in October, and advancing strategy-aligned work streams. 

Aligning and communicating on DEI

To incorporate the principles of DEI into everyday communication, members of our DEI Action Committee developed a living DEI language guide and a formal communication framework for senior leadership to use when addressing sensitive current events. Members also spearheaded the creation of a DEI communication strategy to create conditions for internal and external accountability. 

Prioritizing DEI in our work

DEI Action Committee members conducted an audit of existing field-based DEI practices, including interviews with Social Finance project teams, and pursued secondary research into how DEI, and specifically community voice, can be centered into our impact investing and advisory work. This work formed the basis for an internal DEI discovery report, published in August, and then an internal DEI action toolkit featuring ready-to-pilot DEI project tools, published in December.   

Recruiting and hiring

With the implementation of the applicant tracking system Greenhouse in July, DEI Action Committee members laid the foundation for data-driven DEI accountability. Refreshed interviewing training accompanied the Greenhouse rollout to require that all teammates involved in the hiring process not only had access to objective and unbiased interview practices but also ensured the interview process covered candidate’s commitment to inclusivity. The Action Committee also conducted secondary research to identify additional DEI recruitment practices.        

Talent systems and team support 

Members of the DEI Action Committee incorporated DEI responsibilities into the formal job descriptions of essential talent team roles, augmented the bi-annual performance review process to ensure all team members are assessed on inclusivity as its own competency, led an employee handbook revision process to ensure all policies promoted equity and inclusivity. Finally, members engaged Fletcher Consulting to conduct organization-wide unconscious bias training.

Moving forward

We recently convened the first DEI Action Committee meeting of 2023, with five new teammates joining the group, continuing the work of transforming Social Finance into a more diverse, more equitable, more inclusive, and, ultimately, more impactful organization.

Learn about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Social Finance →