What we're doing about diversity, equity and inclusion

We want to share with you what we are doing about diversity, equity, and inclusion. This article explains where Esmée Fairbairn has got to so far, where we're headed, and pulls together our views, plans, and resources.

[This is an old news story from 16 December 2020 - our latest progress on DEI is here]

Why diversity, equity and inclusion?

As a charity and a funder, we are committed to social justice, and to tackling injustice and inequality. We believe that understanding and making progress towards diversity, equity, and inclusion will be critical for delivering our mission: to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and strengthen the bonds in communities in the UK.

Racial justice is a critical element in this, and we are committed to addressing structural and systemic racism in the UK both as an organisation and through the work we support.

Where are we now?

At Esmée, we are proud of our history of funding some significant organisations seeking to tackle injustice, including racial injustice, for many years. But we know that we need to do much more.

As an organisation, we believe that a greater diversity of views, skills, and lived experience will help generate better ideas, and will lead to better decision making. We commit to living up to our value of “equity” in our culture, systems and practice; to striving for fair opportunities and outcomes for the people we work with; and to working in an inclusive way as a staff and Trustee team to ensure we make progress.

We share more detail on our commitments, our plans, and actions so far on our Diversity, equity and inclusion page.

What about our funding?

As a funder, we are improving the way we track our funding of organisations which are Disability-led or led by racialised communities* (usually termed BAME-led or BME-led). Our aim is to ensure that our process and decisions are accessible, fair, and inclusive.

We know that our £100k annual turnover requirement could be a barrier for organisations led by and for people with lived experience of the issues they are working on – in particular those led by and for racialised communities. So we are taking a range of actions to ensure that we fund more, not fewer, of them in future. See our summary of what we're planning here, and more detail in our action plan.

We also need to gather more accurate data. We are working with 360Giving on a shared taxonomy (set of definitions) for DEI data, which will be used to analyse all our grants and investments as soon as it is published. As part of the Funders for Race Equality Alliance (FRE) , we analysed a sample of our grants (100 grants) using their audit tool (download a presentation about the tool here) to find out how many were "BAME-led". We also ask organisations to tell us whether they identify as "BME-led" or "Disability-led" when they apply to us.

Pending a full analysis with the 360Giving taxonomy in 2021, here's what we know so far:

% of organisations funded by Esmée that are "BAME-led"
% of grants by number % of grants by £amount
Funders for Race Equality Audit sample ** 4% (4 grants) 2% (£364k)
Esmée 2020 grants self ID*** 8% (25 grants) 7% (£2.7m)
% of organisations funded by Esmée that are "Disability-led"
% of grants by number % of grants by £amount
Esmée 2020 grants self ID 4% (13 grants) 3% (£1.2m)

*When classifying our data on organisations, we currently use "BME-led". In future, we want to use the term “racialised communities” to acknowledge that Black and Asian people, and people from other minority ethnic communities are categorised by race like this, because of the white-led systems they exist within.  “Racialised” doesn’t define people’s community or identity, but the phenomenon that is happening to them. [2023 update - our terminology has changed and our current approach to language and data is here]

**Funders for Race Equality's definition of "BAME-led" is that the organisation is run by and for the community it serves. It's mission and purpose must be to benefit BAME communities, and the majority of the leadership (i.e. at least half of the senior team and the Trustee board) should be from the minority community/ies the organisation serves.

***We did not define what we meant by "BME-led" until recently, so organisations choosing this may not meet the strict criteria of the FRE audit tool.

Where do we want to get to?

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is made up of a group of passionate individuals, who will all have different responses to this question. Here are a few people's views:

Luna Dizon, Communications Manager

"I want to see a more just, diverse, inclusive and equitable society - and for me, that means things need to change. I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has supported some amazing organisations working to achieve this. But we should also ask what we, ourselves, need to change including about how we work. I’m really hopeful that our DEI plan will help us make real progress on this and keep us accountable."

Laura Lines, Funding Manager

"I want us to get to a position where more, and different, people hold the power and resources to influence change. Where those who are directly impacted, but often marginalised, are part of finding, funding and scaling the solutions. Where we can be as proud of our investment portfolio, and operations, as we are of our grant-making and social investments. To move beyond good intentions and a policy, to embedding a culture change where diversity and inclusion is the norm."

Heather Salmon, Funding Officer

“As a Black British woman, I’m truly heartened as Esmée Fairbairn Foundation implements its DEI statement and action plan, giving diverse Black, Asian and other racialised communities genuine opportunities to create our unique contribution to British society.”

Find out more about...

Our progress

We will share what we're doing towards ACF's nine ‘Pillars’ of good practice on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page in 2020 and 2021.

Our action plan

We are implementing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan – involving both Trustees and staff. DEI Action plan December 2020

Our values

We recently worked in small groups with staff and Trustees to articulate our organisational values of equity, kindness, integrity, ambition and working together. Read more about our values.

Our funding

Throughout our work, but particularly under A Fairer Future, we are committed to social justice. You can learn more about how we're applying our commitments to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion under each of our aims in our Guidance for support.