The Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Toolkit

This toolkit is for every social enterprise that is working to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in their organisations – within their teams, supply chains, and mission. Our vision is that it will enable a more innovative and productive social enterprise sector that generates far more inclusive economic growth and social impact. Though the toolkit will be updated at regular intervals, it is for inspiration and guidance, so please always seek appropriate legal advice. 

What is this toolkit? 

This is a comprehensive toolkit of curated resources selected by entrepreneurs and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) experts at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and IDEA, at the University of Oxford.

IDEA and Oxford logo
Skoll centre for entrepreneurship logo

The tools primarily address developing inclusive recruitment practices, serving diverse customers inclusively, and building diverse supply chains. The resources include, Assessment exercises, Podcast episodes, Videos Online activities and more! Each resource has been selected to be suitable for any social enterprise wanting to learn, implement good practices, and embed intentionality and accountability for diversity, equity, and inclusion.    

Why should you use this toolkit? 

Internal teams, supply chains and customers are the most central components of any private company’s business model and the tip of the spear for businesses to generate socio-economic impact that furthers equality.  As a starting point, we have included a high-level baseline review tool to map out levels of representation across these components.  

We recommend this as a kick-off exercise for social enterprise leaders looking to intentionally build in strategies for greater diversity, equity and inclusion. 


An illustration of a tree with a hierachy of people at different levels

Is this toolkit specific to Oxford? 

The toolkit also integrates insights from the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Oxford, including video case study interviews with four active social enterprises and community organisations. 

Rather than just reflecting good practices recommended by experts and researchers, the toolkit also captures tried and true approaches and reflections from real social entrepreneurs in Oxford to reflect lived experience from within the Oxford ecosystem.   

If you have ideas or suggestions on how to expand this toolkit, please feel to reach out to the IDEA team on   


An illustration of two office workers doing weights

Diversity and equity begin within your company’s team.  Without representation internally, it can be extremely challenging to serve diverse consumers and build both culture and operations in ways that don’t reinforce existing paradigms of exclusion or marginalisation. 

There are a wide variety of long-standing and emerging practices to help both attract and retain diverse talent in their team.  While building a diverse workforce is a strategic advantage, the true upside comes when leadership reflects the diversity of the team that they lead diversity is reflected in leadership.  Global research shows that companies with both gender and racial diversity in Management and board level outperform competitors that are not representative. For social enterprises, gender and racial diversity are often critical to designing strategies and programs that are well-attuned with target users and beneficiaries. 

While many companies have started improving hiring practices, this does not translate into diverse leadership due to retention, promotion, and internal culture. A positive company culture ensures that everyone has the potential to achieve great things within your company, which then translates to greater representation at all levels. 


Introduce Blind Recruitment 

Introduce blind recruitment (e.g. anonymising applications, redacting university names) for jobs, in order remove internal bias and encourage more diverse applicants (anecdotally, we have heard it makes a bigger difference to expanding the application pool if you not only use blind recruitment, but also advertise that you are using blind recruitment, so that applicants are aware).  

Integrate Diversity from the Outset 

In terms of application and recruitment policy setting, Oxford ecosystem members also reported benefits from integrating diversity from the outset, e.g. including people with lived experience of marginalisation to lead policy development 

Targets in Recruitment 

Equitable and representative outcomes are more likely when processes themselves reflect demographic balance.  Applying quotas to the recruitment process can apply to pipeline development and interview rounds, e.g. setting a target to not close applications until a demographically representative sample has applied, even if this requires more outreach or a longer application window.  Likewise, in the case of panel interviews, many firms set quotas to ensure their interview or selection panels reflect the demographic split they’d aim to see in the broader workforce. 

Apply a Clear Evaluation Process 

When representation in pipeline does not translate into representation in applicants or interviewees, put referrals through the same resume screening as traditional applicants , and apply a clear evaluation process such as:  

  • Identify a diverse hiring panel of interviewers 

  • Do not share resumes with the hiring panel 

  • Develop a qualitative rubric for scoring candidates that is agreed upon by all interviewers for each required skill  

  • Use skills assessments or evaluations connected to the rubric.  

  • Require interviewers to submit scores of candidates before discussing with anyone else in the hiring process.  

  • Review the slate of how all candidates scored before making final hiring decision. 

Use Data Analytics 

Contingent on data availability, it is useful to conduct an annual review of gender and racial diversity by function and level of seniority in order to understand where and why there are gaps in representation.  Some factors behind these gaps are covered below. Some companies also conduct analytics to set up short- and long-term EDI goals, measure and track the process, and find improvements to enhance their progress. These strategic approaches are contingent on leadership commitment and the sizes of companies as many small social enterprises are under-resourced to execute.  

Assess your Leadership Structure 

It is important to consider how company culture, particularly leadership structure, can impact representation and inclusion.  Flat, democratic structures can sound great in theory, but there need to be structures and processes in place to ensure this can be translated into practice (e.g. that employees can identify issues and call out problematic behaviour).   Likewise, more hierarchical institutions require mechanisms to ensure under-represented voices are echoed in chambers of power. Formal mechanisms (such as shadowing, mentoring, and coaching programmes) can help push under-represented talent up the ladder but there should be incentives or supporting mechanism to reduce the burden of extra work  for these underrepresented pioneers. Measures around diversity and inclusion (e.g. employee satisfaction) can be included within performance assessment for leaders for visibility, and linked to incentives. 

Improve your Company Culture 

Design processes and systems that integrate consideration of barriers faced by team members of diverse backgrounds.  This can look like  

  • Flexible working plans that accommodate more customised hours and offsite/onsite preferences   

  • Support for childcare and other caring responsibilities   

  • Exceeding government minimums for maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave policies, including instituting and encouraging equitable shared parental leave policies 

Provide clear Promotion Criteria 

It is important to have clear promotion criteria based on tasks or outcomes, which reduces likelihood of bias in promotion decisions 

In consultation with the local Oxford social entrepreneurship ecosystem, entrepreneurs, systempreneurs, academic researchers, and investors shared the following practices which are improving diversity and inclusion in their organisations. Improved diversity refers to the increase in represented of underrepresented groups in job applicants and employees. Improved inclusiveness refers to the increase in retention rate, and job satisfaction.   

Candidate Outreach 

  • Promote your job opportunities in an array of channels such as Debut, Brixton Finishing School to ensure visibility across under-represented groups. Limiting to personal networks or platforms that are not gender or racially diverse (which in some cases may include university or sector channels) creates blind spots and skews the talent pool.  

  • Diversify targeting settings for digital job ads by using a diverse and inclusive group of keywords and preferences that can reach different pools of talents. For examples, apart from demographic targeting, specific key words around broader interests can be used to reach a wider range of applicants.  

  • Leave job ads open longer to ensure a more diverse pool of applicants is achieved before shortlisting.  

Job posts, Descriptions, and Interviews 

  • Remove jargon from your advert: Wording can inadvertently limit diversity in applicant pools, especially at entry-level.  Removing jargon and including language that refers to a company’s equality commitment can ensure a wider uptake in applications from underrepresented groups.    

  • Remove gendered language: this should include  obvious gender markers, as well as more subtle gendered language (e.g. masculine language around e.g. ‘execution’  

  • Emphasise capability over experience: Data have shown that while male applicants will apply for roles where they meet 60% of the required experience, women applicants will often only apply if they meet 100% of the required experience. Ensure the framing in job descriptions accounts for this by emphasising capabilities.  

  • Remove proxy job requirements: Consider if the requirements are true measurements of job performance (for example: university degrees). 

These resources can help you assess whether your hiring and retention practices are building diversity and equity in your company, as well as outline analysis and strategies to build an inclusive culture.   


The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity 

What does workplace diversity look like in practice? It’s easy for diversity to become a buzzword with very superficial metrics. Yet getting diversity and inclusion right is important for your company and its future. The value of having a diverse workforce has been proven, in relation to profit, productivity, and other measures of success. But how can you go from talking about diversity to making it happen within your company?  Arwa Mahdawi, brand strategist and author of the Strong Female Lead, offers top starter tips for recruiting and building diverse teams, including blind interview processes, challenging homogenous workplace cultures, and embracing diversity as the new normal.  

The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity | Arwa Mahdawi | TEDxHamburg – YouTube  


CGIAR: Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for People and Culture Practitioners 

CGIAR is a global research partnership working towards a food secure future with reduced poverty and enhanced food and nutrition security. Their Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit offers a journey map of their recruitment process from the candidates’ perspective. This toolkit provides advice on how to map your candidate experience and provides sample resources that help you understand your candidates’ needs, wants, and ambitions on their recruitment journey- designed by a social enterprise. 


PowerShift: Mitigating Bias in Recruitment and Hiring Toolkit 

The Avarna Group is a women and BIPOC led consultancy that provides resources on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (collectively, DEIJ) for the environmental sector. But their resources apply to enterprises within a range of sectors and industries. Avarna’s Recruitment and Hiring Toolkit can help you adapt and enhance the transparency of hiring and recruitment processes within your company. The toolkit offers a set of clear, realistic steps for addressing unconscious bias within your recruitment processes. It includes a checklist for your job description and tips for enhancing the transparency around your hiring timeline and recruitment processes.   

Power Shift: A toolkit to mitigate bias in recruitment and hiring 


Oxford-based Equitable and Inclusive Recruitment Agencies 

Some social enterprises have reported low pipeline as a major barrier.  In Oxfordshire, there are equitable and inclusive recruitment agencies, including Beam and Hire2Inspire, for a range of roles.     

Gender-decoder Tool for Job Announcements 

Tools such as Textio and OnGig gender decoder tools help to remove gendered language from job announcements, that may inadvertently limit a gender-diverse applicant tool   


A measuring tape with the words 'measuring impact'

As OECD countries, particularly in capital cities, become more diverse and as the emerging market consumer class grows, there are significant commercial upsides to understanding and engaging more diverse consumer base.  Middle-income consumers in global cities are increasingly racially diverse and not considering their needs means money on the table. Not to mention the fact that women control upwards of an estimated 80% of household consumption decisions.   

Many social enterprises build their business models on the premise of serving under-served or vulnerable groups, which often have significantly higher female or non-white representation.  In these cases, limited understanding of the viewpoints of these groups is not just a missed financial opportunity- it can lead to misaligned products/services that don’t achieve their pledged impact or outcomes.   

Building great products and customer loyalty means informed and conscious decisions about how differences – gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status – can inform worldviews and purchasing decisions. 

In consultation with the local ecosystem, Oxford entrepreneurs, systempreneurs, academics and investors shared the following practices and considerations which are generating improved diversity, equity and inclusion in their businesses and/or research. 


Deep Dive into the End-user Needs 

Many failures in marketing to diverse consumers stem from insufficient market research and customer comprehension (e.g. marketing products with same functionality to women but changing only the colours,). It is key to conduct market research and create a feedback loop to incorporate end-user feedback.  This feedback loop can take various formats, some of which are explored in the tools.  For social enterprises, this feedback loop will also be vital to confirming and verifying impact.  


Price for Inclusion 

Some products and services may require multi-tiered pricing to reach a more diverse audience (this is particularly true for global companies and those targeting under-resourced groups).  Multi-tiered or progressive pricing can create further complications and disincentives but can also increase coverage and impact.  Means-tested pricing was one approach being tested by Oxford social enterprises to address this discrepancy.   


Link to Social Impact 

For social enterprises, inclusive coverage can also be an impact metric.  This opens doorways to increase funding (including philanthropic funding) to explore mechanisms to tailor better for under-served groups. However one must budget for the additional costs to undertake impact measurement. 


Diversify Advertising and Marketing 

Incorporate EDI practices in advertising such as featuring different sets of customers or target different users in ads. 

The resources below can help you think about approaches to gathering data on your consumer base, developing products that recognize the diversity in life experiences, and create marketing campaigns through an inclusive lens.  


User Research 

Instead of simply modifying existing products based on assumptions about gender or race, companies can benefit from applying principles of both user research and, to the extent possible, participatory design.  While many assume that user experience design is typically high-tech and cost-intensive, modalities for this research span a spectrum of stages and budgets.  An overview of low-touch to high-touch user research options are detailed in the link below:  

Overview of common user research methodologies  


Human-Centred Design: Validating and optimising for users of different genders and ethnicities 

Human-centred design is a problem-solving approach typically utilised in design, management, and engineering frameworks. It engineers solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. This includes mapping and involving the human perspective in brainstorming, conceptualizing, developing, and implementing the solution.  The tool can be particularly important for social enterprises for validating and optimising for users of different genders and ethnicities in the design approach.  

Design Kit: The Human-Centred Design Toolkit | 


An Intersectional Approach in Marketing to Women 

Amber Anderson, Co-Founder and Head of Strategy for Tote + Pears, outlines how to take an intersectional approach to marketing to female consumers. Her article includes reflections on the place of identity within marketing and appealing to consumers, and provides pointers for thinking about evolving needs of underrepresented consumers:  

Marketing to Women: 4 Tips on Targeting Female Consumers Effectively 


An illustration of two large hands, one pushing two people down and the other lifting office workers up

Supply chains can comprise a massive component of a company’s commercial footprint.  Building diverse and equitable supply chains is thus an opportunity to create strategic advantages, better understand diverse consumers and expand socio-economic impact. 

In many cases, integrating more under-represented founders and suppliers into the value chain can require intentionality and adaptations. Many enterprises, including social enterprises, do not have full visibility of how their supply chains help or hinder gender and racial equity and representation.  Gaining such visibility is a first step in accountability for socio-economic impact; leveraging such visibility to build inclusive and equitable supply chains is an even bigger step. 

Consultation with entrepreneurs, systempreneurs, academics, and investors from the Oxford ecosystem, revealed the following insights:   


Link Supply Chains to Inclusive Development 

Diversified supply chains are part of a broader impact vision, which typically overlaps with supporting micro, small and medium enterprises and thus broader economic development.  Leveraging community, sector, and impact networks can be a powerful tool to find more diverse suppliers, and to support them.  In some cases, additional support is vital to supply chain diversification, as companies led by women people from minority ethnic backgrounds are often smaller.  


Diversify Supply Chains as a Lever for Impact 

For social enterprises, suppliers can be the tip of the spear for achieving impact.  For social enterprises targeting under-represented groups, this makes it even more imperative to have representation in the supply chain. Key tools used by Oxford social enterprises include 

(a) integrating target audiences/communities into design (i.e. co-creation as partners/suppliers)  

(b) integrating target audiences/communities vendor due diligence 


Develop a Supplier Code of Conduct 

Provide clear guidelines for vendors to integrate objectivs around diversity, equity and inclusion.  

These resources can help you identify opportunities to build supply chains that deepen understanding of the strategic, commercial, and social considerations of supplier development from a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. 


The Road to Inclusive Procurement: Promoting Supplier Diversity through Cross-Sector Engagement 

MSDUK, the leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement within the UK, commissioned a report to explore the integration of ethnic minority-owned businesses into government departments’ supply chains and suppliers. Read this report to learn about equality, diversity, and inclusion within a range of government buyers’ supply chains.  For UK-based enterprises, MSDUK is a powerful ally to identify more companies led by women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds for procurement opportunities.  Their counterpart in the USA is the Minority Supplier Development Agency.  

The Road to Inclusive Procurement: Promoting Supplier Diversity through Cross-Sector Engagement  


WeConnect: The Business Case for Global Supplier Diversity and Inclusion 

How you procure resources and spend your budget is one of the most telling indicators of your company’s priorities. This report by WeConnect International, a corporate-led non-profit that helps empower women business owners to succeed in global markets, puts inclusive procurement in an international context, helping you think about the most inclusive and equitable options for meeting the needs of your consumers.  For companies based in the UK, USA and globally, WeConnect is also a powerful ally to identify more companies led by women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds for procurement opportunities.    

WeConnect: The Business Case for Global Supplier Diversity and Inclusion  

Design Kit: The Human-Centred Design Toolkit | 


MIT Sloan: How Procurement Can Strengthen Diversity and Inclusion 

MIT Sloan Management Review looks at how diverse supply chains can help foster an equitable economic recovery, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Learn how your company can use its supply chains to encourage diversity and inclusion in a rapidly changing social and economic landscape.    

How Procurement Can Strength Diversity and Inclusion 


Capita: Supplier Diversity Best Practice 

Capita’s report highlights how taking an inclusive approach to suppliers leads to significant innovation and enhanced capability to deliver exceptional products and services. Capita highlights common blind spots for new companies, including supply chain rigidity lack of innovation and concentrated risk.  

Supplier Diversity Best Practice   


  1. Desvaux, G., Devillard-Hoellinger, S. & Baumgarten, P. Women matter – Gender diversity, a corporate performance driver. (2007). 

  1. Davis, K. M. 20 Facts And Figures To Know When Marketing To Women. Forbes


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