Foundations make a stand for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

14th October 2019

The Community Foundation for Surrey is one of the 13 foundations based in the UK, that has made an unprecedented commitment to tackle issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the Foundation sector. By forming a coalition and working together, they are determined to face and address many of the systemic inequalities which currently exist in the way Foundations operate.

The newly named ‘DEI coalition’ will provide a forum for the implementation of frameworks, processes and procedures within foundations and is focussed on building a body of practice for themselves and others in the UK sector to learn from. Each foundation has made an explicit dedication to prioritising this work, moving from merely talking about the issues to wanting to take practical action and set change in motion.

Fozia Irfan, CEO of Beds and Luton Community Foundation, who is leading the initiative described the impact, they are hoping to achieve.

“We have seen DEI frameworks being implemented in foundations across the globe but it is an area which is new to the UK – what we hope to do is to critically analyse the way we work and how we distribute funding, to make sure that we are reaching the communities most in need. Given the current political context, it is imperative that as foundations we are equitable, transparent and representative, otherwise we are simply not effective”.

The DEI coalition will start meeting in January 2020 and each foundation has committed to working on this initiative for at least three years, to ensure that there is systematic progress and it remains a key priority.

The 13 foundations include the National Lottery Community Fund, Children in Need, Barrow Cadbury, Lloyds Bank Foundation,  Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Friends Provident and the following community foundations – Essex, Milton Keynes, Quartet, Wiltshire, Two Ridings, Leeds and Surrey.

Laura Thurlow, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation for Surrey shared: 

“We are incredibly excited to be part of this new initiative and very much look forward to being involved. Together, we can learn and share best practice for such a critical issue.”

Dawn Austwick, the CEO of the National Lottery Community Fund explained why the coalition is important;

“We are delighted to be a part of this vital coalition of funders. We all have so much to learn as we journey towards greater inclusion – from each other and from others across the communities we support. We look forward to sharing ideas, developing practice, and urgently accelerating the pace at which we all work so that our funding helps build a society for everyone.”

Paul Streets from the Lloyds Bank Foundation also stated:

“As funders we often support work that seeks to change the world but it is imperative for us to address inequalities and commit to greater diversity, equality and inclusion within our own organisations. This ensures we are more representative of the diverse communities we seek to serve, we better understand the structural inequalities that too often hold them back and we are more open to new and different experiences and views in our decision making. We know we have a long way to go so we are proud to join with all the foundations of the DEI coalition to learn, collaborate and advance the cause within the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and our sector as a whole.”

The aim is for the DEI coalition to provide a vehicle to share best practice and learn together in a supportive environment but also to set a precedent for the sector to follow.

Carol Mack the CEO of the Association of Charitable Foundations stated;

“Addressing issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a pressing issue for the foundation sector and the positive response to our report DEI: The pillars of stronger foundation practice, shows there is enthusiasm and energy for action. I was delighted to learn about this inspiring collaboration involving so many ACF members and wholeheartedly welcome the initiative. This is a significant step for the foundation community and we look forward to seeing how it develops and to share learning with our wider membership.”

The Community Foundation for Surrey is delighted to be part of this exciting initiative. For further information please visit our web page here, or contact or 01582 522422.