In 2018, FUND CI released its landmark study Perception vs. Reality: Women and Change in the CDFI Industry. When speaking to women as part of this study, we learned a person’s experience in the industry went beyond gender identification and was the intersection of many things including race/ethnicity and/or sexual orientation. That led us to FUND CI’s 2019 study Advancing Equity: Diversity and Inclusion at CDFIs where we found a commitment to and knowledge of DEI issues to be an inherent part of being a CDFI. However, more often than not these values and beliefs were not yet codified into formal policies or procedures.
This research and work lead FUND Consulting on our own DEI journey, starting with five of our team members participating in training on fostering inclusion and diversity. From there we overhauled our hiring process, created an internal DEI committee, developed a pronouns guide for our team, and continued our research. We also started working with nonprofits and CDFIs to accomplish the following:
- Formally introduce the topic of DEI at the board, management, and staff levels
- Create tools to seamlessly integrate DEI into corporate practices
- Strengthen CDFI Target Market Accountability
- Increase desirability to attract and retain employees, investors, and partners
2022 is proving to be a pivotal year in our DEI efforts, as we formally dedicate resources to our internal and external DEI work. Notably, Manjima Bose, a partner at FUND, has pivoted her role from managing general consulting operations to focusing the majority of her work on DEI. As a first step in further building out our internal DEI efforts, she will be taking the FUND team through formal DEI planning. Additionally, Manjima continues outreach and consulting to increase awareness of and take clients through our DEI planning product. She is also piloting an equitable lending product in partnership with a small business CDFI.
Stayed tuned for more updates as we continue to grow and learn from our DEI work. In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about your DEI journey. Share your experience with us by completing this survey, commenting on this blog, or reaching out to Manjima directly.