Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion at Nesta

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the urgent calls for racial justice from the Black Lives Matter movement have forced organisations across the world to ask harder and deeper questions about their own efforts to tackle systemic racism. Those events caused many people of colour to think about their upbringing, their careers and their relationships, and - for leaders of organisations like mine - their duty and opportunity to effect change.

Since the events of last summer, we have taken a hard look at Nesta's own role in preventing or perpetuating injustice within our workplace and within the work that we do. For us, perhaps like many organisations, this has revealed just how much we have to learn and unlearn, and how far we have to go.

For many years, we have said we care about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as an end in, and of, itself. This is still true: we firmly believe that our work should reflect our values, our staff should reflect the diversity of our communities and our workplace should be one in which everyone can thrive.

We also know that greater diversity contributes to better ideas, and that those ideas will not be unlocked until we dismantle the barriers to access and inclusion that are too often experienced by people from marginalised backgrounds.

Yet our actions to date have not always reflected our intentions or matched the scale of the challenge we face as a society.

Our aim is to advance EDI in every dimension of what we do, and hold ourselves accountable for the results. Alongside the development of Nesta’s new strategy, we have set out a roadmap to this end - made possible by a group of Nesta staff who has long pushed our organisation to be bolder on confronting inequality, and to whose talents and determination I am deeply grateful. This roadmap encompasses nine goals that span who we are, what we finance, who we promote, and what we seek to achieve.

Our nine goals

  1. We will eliminate gender and ethnicity pay and progression gaps at all levels
  2. We will expand our staff diversity with regards to ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender
  3. We will expand our staff diversity with regards to socioeconomic background
  4. We will ensure all employees feel they belong and are included
  5. We will financially support businesses and organisations led by people from minoritised and disadvantaged backgrounds
  6. We will use our endowment funding to improve the circumstances of people from minoritised backgrounds, through our innovation missions
  7. We will consider and measure the impact of our work on people from minoritised and disadvantaged backgrounds
  8. We will elevate minoritised voices through our communications platforms
  9. We will generate new solutions and evidence to more effectively tackle bias and exclusion

Our EDI strategy, sets out further detail on each of these goals - getting as concrete as possible and setting specific and meaningful targets that we can hold ourselves accountable for.

Committing to ambitious goals, to sharing and to learning

This strategy seeks to disrupt our status quo. As such, the goals are also uncomfortable; they point out flaws in our organisation today, and there is no certainty that we can achieve everything we set out to change. Even where we achieve our targets, we will never be ‘done’. But when it comes to work as important as this, I believe discomfort is one of the best litmus tests for ambition - it is itself a reason to commit. And our commitment is to strive hard to meet ambitious goals, figure out what works, share our successes and failures, and learn over time from others.

Author

Ravi Gurumurthy

Ravi Gurumurthy

Ravi Gurumurthy

Chief Executive

Ravi Gurumurthy joined Nesta as Chief Executive in December 2019.

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