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Leadership Responsibility on Diversity

Windsor Leadership recently hosted its first one-day workshop of the year, focussing on the responsibility of leaders to implement good equality and diversity practice, with a focus on the BAME agenda.

Ashley Arnold, Academy Lead for Windsor Leadership, explores the day -

Our initial two-part residential programme for Inspiring Black and Asian Leaders concluded earlier this year. It not only highlighted the huge benefit of providing a safe space for like-minded leaders to explore communal leadership issues, but also reminded Windsor Leadership of our responsibility to raise awareness and provide opportunity of discussion around the challenges BAME leaders can face, for all of our senior leaders. The outcome was this one-day workshop, designed to offer greater insight into the issues that organisations face when focussing on the BAME agenda and providing the opportunity to explore attitudes, values and beliefs through the shared narratives of speakers.

Pavita Cooper, Chair of CMI BAME Research Advisory Board, opened the day by supporting the call for FTSE 100 companies to have at least one ‘person of colour’ on their Boards, but discussed how they are struggling to comply, in part because of fear of getting it wrong. In addition, she explored how the lack of diversity amongst boards is a schoolroom to boardroom issue, and how we can change this by starting the education process early. Children need to know that there are choices available and that there are no limitations. Her key take-away was “we need to focus on commonality rather than differences.” This was a poignant moment for the room, because as leaders, we need to ask ourselves whether we are giving space and listening to those who have something to say that might be a race issue.

Detective Superintendent Bhupinder Rai, Thames Valley Police was then invited to share her personal story, “When I first enter a room, above all else people see that I am Asian rather than the fact I’m a woman or member of the police force.” She spoke of the significance of building confidence and trust with communities and understanding what is important to them. She raised the sobering thought that line managers are often afraid to address issues with BAME colleagues, as they fear being labelled as racist or have a complaint raised against them. This resonated with many in the room. Detective Superintendent Gill Wootton, also Thames Valley Police, discussed her own experiences of being in the force, providing operational insights and giving practical examples that leaders can take.

Anthony Simpson, Partner, Savannah Group and Board Member of Black Cultural Archives, concluded the morning session by outlining how participants could recognise their own unconscious bias, something that we all possess. He explored the notion that diversity of thought and diversity of action are essential on a board, and that organisations need to create metrics to hold their leadership accountable.

The afternoon session was driven and facilitated by diversity specialist Snéha Khilay, Blue Tulip Training, who invited selected Windsor Leadership Alumni to join each table and share their own personal challenges as a BAME leader. These very personal accounts helped many attending HR directors and leaders to really hear the problems faced. The following round-table discussions encouraged reflection and review of what had been heard through the day, causing participants to look deeper into their own organisation’s policies and cultural behaviour. Participants left with action plans, shared best practises and a network of leaders committed to support each other and create positive change.

The Leadership Responsibility on Diversity Workshop forms part of a series of Workshops and Masterclasses run by Windsor Leadership. Upcoming areas of focus include: Courage and Risk as a Leader, Women in Leadership, and Leadership Wellbeing. Find out more.

Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review

Ahead of our 'Leadership Responsibility on Diversity Workshop', we spoke to Baroness McGregor-Smith, author of ‘Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review’ about how leaders can drive forward the diversity agenda in their organisations. The report can be viewed here.

Upcoming programme: 16-20 September 2019 (Emerging Strategic Leaders)

Please call us on 01753 830 202 or register below for one of our team to contact you:

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