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Good practice case studies

Annual EDI Themes – CEPA

Who we are

CEPA is a small economic and financial policy consultancy that advises on matters where economics, finance, and public policy overlap. As such, CEPA advises frequently on economic regulation and other arrangements within the energy sector.

CEPA hosts an EDI working group that is predominantly formed of non-executive staff, and whose objective is to deliver focused, tangible EDI impacts in and out of the workplace, proportionate to the resources and experience available to a small organisation.

To coordinate and focus our efforts, CEPA’s EDI working group implements annual EDI themes to identify actions and secure buy-in from senior management at the beginning of each year. This facilitates the delivery of tangible impacts throughout the year.

Selecting an annual EDI theme

CEPA recognises that, as a small company, they can’t tackle every issue all at once. Attempting to do so risks spreading themselves too thin and limiting the impact of their efforts. The idea behind their annual EDI themes is to coordinate and create areas of focus for their EDI initiatives. This helps them to reach a point where their efforts in a particular area are self-reinforcing and become ingrained in CEPA’s culture and ways of working.

Every year, the working group undertakes research, shortlists themes, and discusses potential actions to agree one or two candidate EDI themes and associated actions that they plan to take within the year. These actions are intended to tangibly contribute to improving EDI within CEPA, and across the broader economic consulting industry.

Once the working group agrees candidate themes, it presents its proposals to the CEPA Partners to finalise and approve the theme and actions for the following year. Individual members of the working group then take ownership for developing and leading actions under the theme.

They meet monthly to monitor progress against these workstreams, soundboard ideas, and finalise actions ahead of securing approval and throughout implementation.

Actions and Outcomes

In 2022/23 CEPA’s EDI theme was Disability. Over the year, they reviewed the accessibility of their templates, thinking about colour blindness, alternative texts for graphs and charts, and readability from text-to-speech tools. They also reviewed their style guide to make sure that they were producing reports in language that was accessible to as wide an audience as possible. The working group also continues to provide training to CEPA staff on ensuring their work is accessible to all audiences.  These measures help to standardise CEPA’s production of reports and documents that are accessible by default, both saving time and improving the accessibility of their work.

CEPA has also been recognised as Disability Confident Committed under the Disability Confident scheme. As part of their commitment, they have taken steps to provide support and job shadowing opportunities to applicants with a disability or long-term health condition. CEPA also provides adjustments to existing employees who acquire a disability or long-term health condition.

In 2023/24, the theme was Social Mobility. In this year, some highlight initiatives include the following:

  • CEPA supported 5% of their staff to volunteer to the Access Project, which provides free tutoring services for exam and application preparation to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access top universities. Staff volunteer on company hours.
  • They have developed a working relationship with Discover Economics, who work to connect young people to universities and careers in economics to improve diversity. Seven CEPA employees have signed up to be Professional Champions of Discover Economics, and Charlotte Hallam, CEPA Senior Consultant, spoke about her experiences at a Women in Economics event for school students, held to mark International Women’s Day.
  • They are investigating the possibility of offering a degree apprenticeship in economics, targeted at students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • They are also exploring offering work experience or placement opportunities for disabled students.

Their annual EDI themes have facilitated a workplace that is more engaged with EDI issues and helps us, as a small organisation, drive tangible EDI improvements and embed them into their operations year-on-year.

It has also prompted careful consideration of their recruitment processes at all levels of seniority. CEPA has moved to a blinded recruitment model for its entry-level recruitment process, under which applicants progress through different stages of technical and economic assessment. CVs remain blinded of demographic and educational background information until the final interview stage.

Alongside their blind recruitment process, CEPA has implemented a diversity and inclusion survey to learn about their applicants. Applicant responses are anonymised and not used in the recruitment process. They are instead used to help CEPA understand where they can improve their recruitment processes.

Next Steps

CEPA’s approach to themed years is flexible and does not limit their efforts or initiatives to the year’s theme. They have implemented new initiatives that, while not directly related to their theme, are “low-hanging fruit.” This often means building upon work done in previous years – for example, trainings designed during their 2022/23 theme year on producing accessible documents have become embedded in the standard trainings delivered to new joiners. CEPA’s themed years therefore facilitate lasting improvements to CEPA’s policies and ways of working that extend well beyond the individual theme year.

Considering the scope for additional work on Social Mobility, strong momentum on their existing initiatives, and to give themselves more time to make a lasting impact in this space, they have extended their 2023/24 Social Mobility theme to 2024/25.

Lessons Learned

CEPA’s experience with EDI points toward a few key lessons learned:

  • Partnering with established external initiatives can be more impactful than building new initiatives from scratch, particularly as a small firm. CEPA’s experience suggests that opportunities to easily plug into the efforts of others have driven results more quickly than bespoke apprenticeships or work experiences, which can be slower and more difficult to develop.
  • It is important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. All organisations have limited bandwidth, and incremental improvements can contribute to a more inclusive work environment and awareness of EDI issues.
  • Securing buy-in from leadership and from staff is easiest and most effective when they are included in the process of crafting and deciding on new initiatives. New initiatives are generally the result of a dialogue with senior management, begun in the form of a working paper or proposal. CEPA is lucky to have a partner and other senior staff as part of its EDI working group to facilitate this dialogue.


Further information can be found on the EDI page of CEPA’s website, here. To learn more about EDI at CEPA, please contact Erin Fleming and Jay Faris by email at and