Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Snowball
Laura Boyle, Head of Marketing, Snowball
Fri 1 September 2023
Every financial investment shapes the world. The question is: what kind of world do we want? Snowball is purpose-built to demonstrate better investment. Diversity of thought is key to the success of our mission to contribute to a sustainable future for all.
Current picture: our commitments
1. Build a culture of belonging.
All team members participate in an ongoing development programme focusing on two connected themes which we believe are the strong foundations of a culture of belonging: ‘giving feedback’, and ‘understanding our own and other’s strengths’.
Anonymous and optional team identity survey which allows team members to share insights into their experience of belonging in the team. This opens up a conversation about the different lived experiences we have in our group.
2. Diversify investment and operational decision making.
Over 50% of Snowball board are women.
Snowball’s CEO is a woman from a minoritised ethnic background.
We have an experienced Investment Committee who also bring diversity of thought from their socio-economic background and ethnicity, and similarly have built a Leadership Council and Expert Network of people who bring a range of backgrounds in contributing to Snowball’s approach.
Looking ahead, our team identity survey is designed to help us identify where we need to focus our action plan, including mitigating against bias in recruitment and investment decision making.
3. Be transparent and accountable.
Last year we under took an independent verification of our impact processes, and published the detailed findings on our website. This includes a review of Snowball’s diversity, equity and inclusion.
We intend to share our learning by publishing blogs like this which cover our thinking, and our action plan in this area.
At Snowball, we're building a transformative culture through inner work, and by building understanding of the individual role we each play in inclusion.
Daniela Barone Soares, CEO, Snowball
Looking ahead: our action plan
Embed equity as a driver of Snowball’s strategy
Nurture a culture of belonging so everyone who works at Snowball thrives
Increase and nurture diversity of thought, with a focus on the positive impact of diversity in operational and investment decision making
1. Assess, and benchmark
Team discussion of strengths and areas to improve
Internal (anonymous and optional) survey to assess representation and team experiences
Market/sector best practice review
Identify where Snowball can pioneer
2. Set goals, agree measures of success
One page strategy summary, including measurable goals which may include goals like enhancing cultural competency through team learning programmes, setting measures for annual employee engagement feedback, increasing diversity of thought in decision making roles.
Align with our diversity, equity and inclusion goals for ‘how we invest’
3. How we work and culture
Foundation for inclusion development programme including strengths-based approach, developing giving feedback
Team learning programme about bias and identity
4. How we work, legal and policies
Recruitment and talent processes
Supplier and partner processes
Align with DEI goals ‘how we invest’ including our engagement approach
5. Accountability and measurement, iterate
Publish information about Snowball approach to DEI externally
representation information on website
DEI policy on website when complete
Share learnings, including where we want to improve
Adapt annual team survey to incorporate section for anonymous feedback about how we are doing in our goal to continuously improve towards a culture of belonging.
A culture of belonging leads to diversity, not the other way around. Rather than short term "tick box" measures, we're thinking long term.
Laura Boyle, Head of Marketing, Snowball
The terms diversity, equity and inclusion are often used interchangeably. It’s important to note that they mean different things.
Diversity is the representation of different identities we have in Snowball.
We intentionally use the term Equity instead of equality. The concept of equity encourages to focus on the fact that – due to the current system – different people need different levels of support in order for us to reach fair or equal outcomes.
Inclusion is the about the set of activities we will take to keep developing our team culture so it actively enables and values all our strengths. Inclusion does not just happen naturally from increasing diversity, which is why the Snowball DEI action plan focuses on building a strong culture of belonging so that people from all identities can thrive.
Justice dismantles barriers to resources and opportunities in society so that all individuals and communities can live a full and dignified life.
For us, Belonging means everyone is treated and feels like a full member of the larger community, and can thrive. The Ford Foundation describe this as “The result of your inclusion work – the participation of all people in the group. Every person’s voice adds value (but no one person being called upon to represent an entire community.)”
Intersectionality is a metaphor to think about how multiple, overlapping identities impact our experience, including multiple discrimination and disadvantage. The concept and term was originally developed by Kimberle Crenshaw, Colombia Law School.
“One of the key obstacles is bias. Efforts focused solely on diversity – defined as a difference of identities or characteristics, such as gender, race and sexual orientation, among others – assume a level playing field based on meritocracy: that as long any person works hard, they will be able to reap the benefits. Consideration of equity and inclusion, alongside diversity, is needed to ensure not just equal opportunity but also equal outcomes for people.”
Why is diversity, equity and inclusion so central to our work at Snowball?
1. Human rights. Global majority and women owned asset management firms manage less than 2% of global assets under management.
2. If done well, nurturing diversity of thought has the potential to enable the success of Snowball’s theory of change.
better decision making
better problem solving, and risk management
improved investment performance
engage widest range of investors in our mission
However, it is critical we avoid negative impact as tokenistic DEI efforts create harm.
Influencing the investment industry, and demonstrating a better way
Diversifying investment, Knight Frank
Diversity Inclusion Belonging & Equity Toolkit, Harvard Human Resources Center for Workplace Development
Terminology Guide, The Law Society
The Asset Owner Diversity Charter, The Diversity Project
Diversity Data Collection Guide, Investment Association produced with Pwc
Diversity and inclusion action planning, The Law Society
Diversity and inclusion made simple, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association
The ACT Standard, Cityhive
Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion approach, B Corporation