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Internal education,
culture and policy.

Purpose and principles

Create a culture of diversity and inclusion across the firm, including clear guidelines, policies and training.

  • Permeate understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion across the organisation in order to maximise returns

  • Starting with senior and front-office leadership, have a culture that enables and retains diverse talent in meaningful roles

  • Implement diversity and inclusion training programmes across the firm, with a focus on continuing education

  • Enforce breaches and review policies on an ongoing basis

Addie Pinkster, Founder and CEO, Adelpha

"We have a clear position on diversity: we look for exceptional opportunities for growth and return. We back great companies: some are female-founded, female-coded or have a female-focused product. We work with great individuals: some are female. We don’t approach diversity as an agenda item or target, it’s just good business sense. Women, and other minorities, in the workplace is about profit and strength, not purpose or tokenism. That said, it brings us pride and pleasure alongside performance."

Best practice examples

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Best Practise

Organisational D&I statement and strategy

  • Develop and publicise a statement of support and/or overview of strategy for advancing D&I within the organisation and the wider industry
  • Set D&I targets (eg gender and ethnicity diversity) within the firm, and track these targets
  • Support an active D&I culture with budget and resource
  • Support and sponsor your D&I initiatives with a dedicated budget, and give expected timelines of deliverables and tangible outcomes

Accountability

  • Commit to tackling bias and enhancing workplace culture for all
  • Create and regularly issue clear communications on mandate and process
  • Make a public pledge and publish targets and action plans, and hold your firm to account
  • Sign up for the Diversity VC Standard
  • Communicate policies publicly and sanction non-compliance
  • Communicate your targets to other VC and PE firms to encourage further following and collaboration

An internal culture of clear, direct and plain-text expectations

  • Be clear on what you look for in high-performance talent
  • Be clear on how people succeed within the organisation
  • Have a transparent and accessible evaluation and review process
  • Challenge all to give direct and actionable feedback

Chief diversity officer or champion

  • Establish a leadership position for an individual to champion D&I policies within the organisation
  • A named member of the senior, front-office leadership or investment team should be accountable for diversity and inclusion
  • Appoint an executive sponsor and board member responsible for D&I. This person must be passionate, respected and must actually believe in, and understand the value and importance of, D&I
  • Sponsor a D&I affinity group that is open to all (not just women or under-represented groups), which can be led by the D&I champion

Camilla Richards, Partner, Atomico

"If companies don’t foster a D&I environment, they won’t be able to attract the best talent, and they will be missing a key component while developing their products and services by neglecting some of the communities they serve."

Anonymous, MD in a global
investment bank

"Having a senior male executive as a diversity champion in a big company can be great – so long as he actually believes it and isn’t ticking boxes himself to be there. Diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities need to be important to senior people (including white men) in financial services in order to be prioritised as they should be."

Harassment and discrimination policies

  • Develop and implement equity principles with employee consultation
  • Ensure they are standardised in the organisational manual, adequately advertised and mandatory for all employees onboarding
  • Ensure the code includes a zero-tolerance harassment policy
  • Commit at senior level to tackle sex discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace

Organisational culture surveys and progress trackers

  • Develop and conduct employee surveys that assess attitudes and perspectives around organisational culture
  • Track results and progress over time, benchmarking against pre-established goals or engaging in industry certification programmes
  • Monitor and report progress against a time frame
  • We recommend Diversio’s inclusion assessment for a D&I scorecard, benchmarking data and tactical recommendations

Inclusive office spaces

  • Designate office space available for those who have diverse needs, including but not limited to religious needs, disabilities and lactation

Leadership training

  • Have leadership attend mandatory training sessions on anti-oppression, unconscious bias, accountability and inclusive culture to create an environment permeated with these values

Anti-harassment training

  • Educate employees on harassment/bullying and its consequences
  • Enforce strict anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies
  • Adopt mandatory training on how to deal with different types of harassment from a bystander and victim perspectives
  • Special focus on sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender and disability

Measure promotions and attrition by gender, ethnicity and other areas

  • Track and report the gender, ethnicity and other areas (noting relevant legislation) of all promoted and departed employees for the purpose of identifying positive or negative trends, with a commitment to remediation where necessary
  • Periodically review changes that are implemented and the impact they have had

Anonymous, Investment Director

"Having worked in financial services my whole life, I’m conscious that some aspects of corporate culture can naturally alienate some employees. In the UK there is a pub culture, where key decisions can be hatched or made. As a female, a foreigner, someone who doesn’t drink, and didn't go to a UK (let alone private) school, I have felt on the outside of these groups. That said, I'm not against people going for a drink if the people and leaders involved can just think a bit about it, and about compensatory measures and ways for people like me to be inside the conversation too. I’ve been helped a lot by managers and mentors who’ve kept me in key conversations and decisions, and given credit and voice to my ideas." 

Employee resource groups or circles

  • Actively solicit feedback on culture and suggested programmes
  • Create a programme where employees meet to discuss and commit to inclusion principles and initiatives
  • Ask employees to self-nominate themselves as leaders of the circles. Ensure each meeting ends with a personal commitment

Harassment reporting system

  • To increase the ease of reporting, investigating and addressing sexual and other forms of harassment, use an anonymous reporting system or an application where the process is clearly advertised and timely executed

Cultural competency training

  • Implement mandatory training for all employees to build cultural awareness and understanding, and learn to spot microaggressions in their own behaviour as well as the behaviour of others
  • Implement investment diversity and inclusion training programmes across the firm, with a look at continuing education v one-off sessions
  • Measure impact through organisational surveys, pre and post-training interventions

Anonymous, Private Equity

"All companies, whether investment firms or investee companies, should have mandatory leadership training on anti-oppression, inclusive culture and unconscious bias. This is meaningful, important and so easy to implement. It is so frustrating to hear senior managers treat these ideas flippantly, as box-ticking exercises or incurring unnecessary cost or hassle."
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