Inclusion and Diversity Policy
Releasing potential through diversity, inclusion and wellbeing
We believe that diverse perspectives are the key to innovation, growth and our continued success as a business. We’re fostering a culture that values difference, furthers inclusion and promotes collaboration. We do it, because we see that when every employee, founder or team member is empowered to impact our business, we all win.
We recognise that in order to achieve our mission of being the UK’s leading and most admired early-stage investor, Forward needs to be a reflection of our community both in terms of our daily operations as well as the investments we make.
In 2020, we undertook a materiality study to assess the UN’s SDGs for relevance and impact. We established that gender equality (Goal 5) and sustainable working practices (Goal 8) were key areas where Forward could have a significant societal impact. As a result, inclusion and diversity has formed a key part of our overall ESG strategy.
Our core inclusion and diversity principles are as follows:
- Diversity – improving representation both in terms of gender and race disparity.
- Inclusion – ensuring a fair and safe workplace where everyone can fulfil their potential.
- Investment – improving the diversity and inclusion of our investment pipeline. We have a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. We can confirm that there were no reportable events within the organisation during the period.
Our goal is to make Forward a great place for everyone to work. Ultimately, we want to be an employer of choice for high-quality, talented people no matter their gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, social background, or religion, not only because this is the right thing to do, but because it makes us a better business.
How we recruit
We actively recruit and nurture talent that adds diversity to our workplace, seeking the best and the brightest, whoever they are.
All applicants receive equal treatment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Building a strong team culture
We believe that team culture is a powerful way to unlock growth and innovation. And we recognise the importance of bringing together diverse experiences, opinions and perspectives.
Diversity and inclusion principles are embedded at every level of our company, from the top down and ground up. We run a series of group-wide initiatives and support employee-led proposals for activity throughout the year, empowering every one of our team to serve as a role model and spread the message of inclusion. Highlights include mental health awareness week, featuring a series of talks, voluntary activities and the launch of our mental health policies; Pride Month celebrations, including team socials and educational content; International Women’s Day, including book distribution and an external SDG GOAL 3, 5 & 8 speaker for our team and portfolio.
As a company, we’re working towards a more equal female-to-male ratio in the workplace. A breakdown of our makeup in December 2021 is available on page 74 of our 2021 Annual Report.
We are committed to building a team that reflects our community. We are proud to report that the ethnic backgrounds that our employees identify with reflect 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.
Building an inclusive environment
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.
Health and wellbeing
As an organisation, we are committed to providing our employees with robust health and wellbeing benefits to ensure that they can reach their full potential at work.
Our staff handbook includes a range of policies designed to protect both our employees and our business.
Improving deal flow diversity
In 2021, we worked to increase gender equality and ethnic diversity of our deal flow pipeline by leveraging networks, partnerships and through Forward-led initiatives. In Q4, female entrepreneurs represented 34% of our first meetings and applicants from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds made up 32%. We consider the improvement of these statistics to be of key importance in 2022.