Diversity, equity and inclusion: actions so far

Company Three

Below, we list key actions we have taken so far to make progress on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. They are listed under the relevant pillar in ACF's Stronger Foundation's report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Pillar 1: Invests time and resources in understanding and defining diversity, equity and inclusion

December 2019

We held a staff meeting to discuss the Association of Charitable Foundation's pillars of good practice and how we think Esmée measures up to each. We also gathered anonymous responses via an online staff survey. Through this we identified pillars 1, 3, 4, and 6 as the first priorities for Esmée and suggested some practical ways forward in addressing them. We also highlighted the need for greater organisational understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.

July 2020

We held introductory training for all staff on diversity, equity and inclusion, facilitated by an external expert. Its purpose was to start to explore and define what diversity, equity and inclusion means to Esmée and to build confidence on language and practice. The training highlighted the need for Esmée to think more intentionally about what our values are, how equity and inclusion are part of them, and how we can ensure our work better reflects our values.

August - September 2020

We worked in small groups with an external facilitator to develop a set of organisational values in an inclusive way.

To do

We will commission an independent review of our progress on DEI.

Pillar 2: Produces and reviews strategies that will implement DEI practices

July 2020

Our Trustee Board approved an action plan for addressing the pillars of good practice. Trustees agreed that diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to our new strategy: to who and what we fund, to how we operate as a staff team and Board, and to how we use our influence.

We started working with an Involving Young People Collective to advise us on how we might involve young people in how we work and make decisions.


We have identified and continue to explore actions we can take to ensure DEI is embedded across our operations (for instance, in our recruitment, funding, endowment and supply chains).

Pillar 3: Collects, tracks and publishes DEI data on its own practices and performance

August 2020

We surveyed trustees and staff to provide better diversity data. We will conduct this survey annually and publish the data on our website. See our most recent update.

August 2020 - Ongoing

Using a tool developed by Funders for Race Equality Alliance, we conducted an audit of a sample of our data to look at how much of our funding is going to organisations led by and serving communities experiencing racial inequity. We will also be using the DEI Data Standard (see Pillar 9) to do a full analysis of our portfolio and are planning to publish the data in early 2022.

To do

We are working with our Investment Adviser on an ongoing basis to address DEI issues in our investment portfolio and the extent to which managers have policies and procedures in place.

An audit/review of our investment strategy is planned for 2022. A consideration of DEI factors will be part of the discussions and process.

Pillar 4: Has a diverse Board of Trustees and staff team, both in terms of demographics and experience

September - December 2020

We began a public recruitment process for additional Trustees with the aim of increasing the diversity of our Trustee Board. Two new Trustees joined our Board in January 2021.

May 2021

We developed a People Plan, which sets out the high-level principles of how we operate including how we recruit and induct people into the organisation. As part of this, we looked at how more inclusive practices could be applied – for instance, where appropriate, we are providing interview questions to applicants in advance so they can prepare. We are also working with recruitment partners to ensure we always have diverse shortlists.

Pillar 5: Reflects and implements DEI practices in its funding activities

March 2021

We offered a total of £2m in additional unrestricted grant funding to organisations in our portfolio that are led by and for communities experiencing racial inequity.

June 2021

We created a new fund open to performing arts organisations in our portfolio to provide additional grants to support reopening plans and strengthen commitments to DEI. In total, 40 grants were awarded, totalling £1.8m.

July 2021 - Ongoing

We have started work to bring community voice into Esmée to help us explore how we can shift power and make our funding process more equitable. We will share more on our progress so far and plans towards the end of the year.


We are proactively seeking out and contacting organisations who are led by, and for, communities experiencing racial inequity, and share our impact goals, but do not currently meet our eligibility criteria. We want to learn more about their work, the challenges they face, and start a conversation about what we can do to support them.

To do

We will commission an independent assessment of our process to inform more inclusive practice.

Pillar 6: Expresses its DEI commitment, policies and practices publicly

December 2021 - Ongoing

We published our commitments on DEI with a link to our action plan alongside our values.


We have taken part in activities exploring approaches to DEI with others – for instance, an event on Funding BAME creativity and the Equality Impact Investing Project.

Pillar 7: Makes itself accountable to those it serves and supports

October 2020

We launched our new five-year strategy, which outlined our commitment to DEI and shared how we would prioritise DEI across our three main aims in our Guidance for Support.


We continue to update this page with our actions to date and will provide regular updates on progress – through our website and in our Annual Report.

To do

We will invite general feedback on our DEI plans with a robust system for collecting and acting on feedback, including a clear route for informing strategy, practice and policy. This will be part of the work we are doing to bring community voice into Esmée (under Pillar 5).

Pillar 8: Uses its own power to advocate for and advance DEI practices

February 2021

We provided funding for Race for Nature’s Recovery, a collaborative programme of over 30 environmental charities who are using the Government’s Kickstart Scheme to secure placements in the environment sector for16-24 year olds from communities experiencing racial inequity. We will help to ensure that the learning from this initiative forms the foundation for a wider sustainable programme of work beyond the lifetime of the Kickstart Scheme.

April 2021

We supported our Involving Young People Collective to host a hackathon to address the lack of diversity in the Environment sector. Learn more and read the report.

August 2021 - Ongoing

We have updated our application process to include a question asking organisations about their approach to DEI. Through our assessment and grant monitoring processes, we want to learn about the progress organisations are making so that we can share good practice, but also to support those that have further to go on DEI and are keen to improve their practice.


We use our communications to highlight and share good practice on DEI.

Pillar 9: Collaborates with others to promote and implement DEI practices

August 2020 - Ongoing

As part of the DEI Data Group, we commissioned the development of the DEI Data Standard, a shared framework to help funders monitor equity considerations in grantmaking. We are now in the process of adopting the Standard. As part of this, we will be carrying out a full analysis of our funding and will be making changes to our Expression of Interest form.

January 2021

A cross-organisation staff DEI Working Group started working alongside the Senior Management Team to ensure we make progress against our action plan.


We are an active member of the Funders for Race Equality Alliance to support efforts to improve the sector’s practice on DEI.

We are using learning from reports on funding for racial justice (including those by Funders for Race Equality Alliance, Baobab Foundation and Ubele) to inform our funding practice as well as our work to bring community voice into Esmée.

We are supporting a cross-sector initiative led by Wildlife and Countryside Link and Natural England to benchmark DEI performance among environmental organisations, disseminate best practice and remove barriers to careers and participation to communities experiencing structural inequity. This work is due to report by October and will give us guidance as to how we can use our role to influence practice and action across the environmental sector.

This page was last updated in September 2021.