Our goal is to make Forward a great place for everyone to work. We recognised that in order to achieve our mission of being London’s leading and most admired early stage venture fund, Forward needs to be a reflection of our community both in terms of our daily operations as well as the investments we make.
Since setting up this committee we have completed a materiality study based on the UN’s SDGs where we assessed each goal for relevance and impact. The outcome from this study was that Gender Equality (Goal 5) and Sustainable Working practices (Goal 8) were the most material issues to us as a company and so inclusion and diversity has formed a key part of our overall ESG strategy.
The ESG Committee will review this policy on a quarterly basis to ensure we are accurately reporting and measuring what is relevant and where we can have impact given the size of the business.
This policy outlines our commitments across the various aspects of our business operations.
- Diversity - both in terms of gender equality and support for minorities
- Inclusion - ensuring a fair and safe workplace where everyone can fulfil their potential
- Investment - improving the diversity and inclusion of the investment pipeline
We are committed to improving female representation across Forward and promoting women to leadership roles.
As of Q4 2020, our gender diversity of our team was 60% male, 35% female, 1% non-binary with 3% preferring not to answer. Forward will aim at becoming more gender balanced . We will also focus on improving female representation in the Senior Leadership Team, aspiring to hire and promote more women into leadership positions in 2021.
We will achieve this by:
- Aiming to using language that is inclusive in our job descriptions and throughout the hiring process to attract diverse candidates. We will continue to work with platforms such as BeApplied, using their TextAnalysis tool to identify and remove bias and inequalities in job adverts and descriptions.
- Where possible, we will aim to provide a diverse candidate pool across our hiring process, with a goal of achieving a 50:50 gender split throughout the hiring process.
- Challenging each other's bias’ and facilitating unconscious bias and allyship conversations, calling each other into the conversation, rather than calling out.
- Monitoring the diversity of our team on a biannual basis and will use this data to drive improvements.
Note: This is going to be dependent on a number of variables such as employee attrition and company growth. These targets have been modelled on the current thinking and will be revisited each quarter.
We are committed to delivering a candidate pipeline that reflects ethnic minority representation in our community.
As of Q4 2020 end, we are proud to report that the ethnic backgrounds that our employees identify as are a reflection of our community* and in some groups we are ahead. We have achieved representation of the community and we will continue to maintain our performance of attracting diverse ethnic backgrounds to Forward.
We will achieve this by:
- Using language that is inclusive in our job descriptions and throughout the hiring process to attract diverse candidates. Continuing to work with platforms such as BeApplied, using their TextAnalysis tool to identify and remove bias and inequalities in job adverts and descriptions.
- Delivering an ethnically diverse candidate pool aiming to achieve 20% representation** throughout the hiring process.
- Delivering unbiased hiring processes and continuing to use tools and platforms such as Equalture to focus on a person’s skills, personality and potential
- Creating partnerships with organisations to help us build strong connections to diverse communities
We are committed to the continuous effort of building an inclusive environment where people are treated equally and everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.
We want to continue building an open and inclusive culture where we recruit and develop the best talent in our community. We have already made improvements to drive inclusion by encouraging people to apply for jobs even if they don’t tick all the boxes. We are running quarterly engagement and inclusion surveys to help us identify areas for us to improve so we can take action quickly.
We will achieve this by:
- Committing to providing transparent salary benchmark and progression frameworks
- Promoting more women to leadership positions
- Employees have time-bound measurable objectives tied to company objectives.
- Reduce masculine language (done Q1)
- Encouraging people to apply for jobs even if they don’t tick all the boxes (done Q1)
- Use assessment questions instead of CVs (Q1 tried and not taken forwards)
To ensure our team can confidently follow this policy, we will offer resources, events, talks and workshops that will help deliver change for the better. This educational programme will include at least one 30 minute session each quarter that will focus on each of our commitments. We also expect to build on our partnerships with D&I thought leaders, partners and community platforms.
To ensure this policy will be effective it has been prioritised alongside our wider strategic goals (OKRs) at Forward. This provides a framework for achieving and tracking our commitments. We will continue to update this policy as we complete the OKRs.
- We recognise the importance of the role as a decision-maker for funding and investment in the UK ecosystem we want to make the process as fair and equitable as possible. As a next step we will be looking into how we will approach this in the near future.
*community is defined by 2011 UK Government Census
** 14% of the population is made up of BAME people according to 2011 Census