The Value of Targeted BME Leadership Development

Posted in: The Diversity Blog- Apr 09, 2012 Comments Off

Many organisations have run BME Leadership Development Training to try to redress their lack of career progression to top management positions. They have persevered with the notion that a diverse and inclusive leadership team will deliver sustained business success, especially in this increasingly diverse and globalised economic and social landscape. What are the lessons that can be learnt from organisations such as the NHS, Imperial College London, Ernst & Young and others that have successfully run BME Leadership Development Programmes?

In 2011, the Race for Opportunity Award for Widening the Talent Pool went to Ernst & Young for its BME Leadership Development Programme.

In its submission EY showed that the programme was meeting its aim of better representation of BMEs in its leadership team:

  • 12 participants had been promoted including EY’s first Black director.
  • EY had 15 BME partners and 134 BME senior managers in 2011 compared to 13 and 111 respectively the year before.
  • Workshop feedback indicates extremely high levels of satisfaction. Participants are more visible and have been inspired to mentor other BMEs. Facilitators say: “A catalyst for change – participants realise how to use their diversity as a strength.”
  • In addition, BME and white partners have stepped forward to become role models and support the programme.

There are three key lessons we can learn from the example of EY, Imperial College London and others.

  1. Results matter more: Targeted Leadership Development Programmes must be seen to have impact and deliver almost immediate results with regards the progression of BME participants. Some might say, there is a higher bar set for the impact required for sustainability than for gender based or mainstream leadership training!
  2. Training is never enough: The key to success is the culture of the organisation and the commitment of the senior leadership, both of which need to see inclusion and the progression of BMEs as based on the intrinsic value added and extraordinary results they can bring to the organisation. This means that even in tough times, the benefits of progression outweigh the cost of the investment.
  3. Diversity as value added: Where BME leaders can embrace their diversity as a strength, and operate from a place of authenticity, they have the wherewithal to successfully navigate as a minority in a majority environment all the way to the top!
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