DEI at Shift: Making our commitments

Welcome to Shift’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) blog series! We’ll be using this space to share what we’ve been doing to embed diversity, equity and inclusion into our ways of working.

Since becoming a flatter organisation, we’ve been re-thinking what we’d like to offer the world. Having seen social inequalities highlighted and continue to grow through the Covid pandemic, Shift has become more convinced of the need for a new approach to social change – one that puts greater decision-making power in the hands of those who are most negatively affected by our current systems. And we see diversity, equity and inclusion sitting at the very centre of this.

We’ve also been thinking about how we can better embody these values in our own organisation. What else might we do to reflect the social change we want to see inside our own four walls?

For instance, while we have great female representation at Shift, particularly in positions of leadership, there are broader dimensions of identity where diversity is less strong for us. And while we’re proud to work on projects like Growth Impact Fund and the All In Community Incubator, which shift real power to underrepresented voices, we also want to ensure that our new organisational structure is delivering this internally. Our flatter, ‘leaderful’ approach needs to genuinely redistribute power across our organisation and deliver inclusive spaces for those doing and engaging with our work.

Our four DEI commitments

To support these ambitions and keep us accountable, we’re publishing four commitments around diversity, equity and inclusion. Every three months, we will share what we’ve been implementing against each of these commitments, and the effects we’ve seen – good or bad.

To kick us off, we’re sharing our latest progress below from the last three months. You can read more about why we’ve chosen these DEI commitments here.

01 We commit to deepening our team’s understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion, so we can continuously evolve towards something better

  • We’ve been building our team’s knowledge of fundamental DEI concepts, through a new schedule of learning and knowledge-sharing activities. This will allow us to deep-dive into specific areas of inequality in the coming months (e.g. sexism, ableism, ageism)
  • We’ve scheduled a session with industry experts Spark & Co, to help us unpack Shift’s culture, positionality, and how we are best placed to support communities across the UK.

02 We commit to being transparent about diversity, equity and inclusion at Shift, what we’re doing to improve, and how that’s going

  • We’ve launched this blog series!
  • We’re researching how we can share Shift’s diversity statistics in a way that protects privacy in a small organisation like ours. We’d love to hear from you if you have ideas that can help us with this, or if you’ve experience with it yourself in a small organisation.
  • While the above is happening, we’re creating new team case studies that highlight the diverse experiences and backgrounds of our team, along with how that diversity can be expressed and inform our work at Shift. We hope these will build up a richer understanding of our team’s collective strengths and any opportunities to broaden the range of experiences shaping our work. Stay tuned for one of these soon.

03 We commit to growing the diversity of perspectives and experiences that shape our work at Shift and the way we operate as an organisation

  • We’ve begun to recruit a new, more diverse board to help shape and guide our organisation
  • We’ve brought individuals from the communities we partner with into our core project teams. Most recently we’ve been doing this in our work with Young Women’s Trust, to ensure the views of those most affected by our design work can shape that work in meaningful ways.
  • In the past couple of years, we’ve taken steps to make our recruitment process more inclusive through blind-scoring CVs, offering flexible-working in all roles, and other inclusive practices recommended in the design sector. While we’ve seen these diversify our applicant pool, we want to more formally capture their results in our upcoming round of team hires, and we will report back what we learn in this process, and anything we want to change.

04 We commit to building more inclusive spaces for our team, partners and stakeholders, so everyone feels that they truly belong.

  • We’re drawing up a charter of Shift’s “Guiding Behaviours”. This identifies the behaviours required to make our flatter structure work, alongside the need for everyone to feel a sense of true belonging at Shift. It will soon be published and go into our Staff Handbook.
  • We’ve scheduled a fearless organisation scan to understand how psychologically safe Shift is, and actions we can take to improve that.


We’ll report back in July on how we’ve got on with the above, and what this means for us next. So stay tuned for more updates and get in touch with Michael if you have any questions or comments.