The BITC Race at Work Charter requires that organisations:
- Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race
- Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress
- Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
- Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers
- Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression
Here are 5 ways that you can Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression and 3 pitfalls to avoid that you should not do.
Research shows that ethnic minority staff are less likely to have a sponsor, because those senior in organisations are often white men and naturally sponsor in their own image.
A sponsor comes from within your organisation and is always forward-looking and challenging you to rise to the occasion. They give you specific advice about how to maneuver the political landscape of your organization and will also wear your brand T-shirt. By that, I mean sponsors will take it upon themselves to promote your brand by sticking their necks out on your behalf when promotions, open spots on projects or committees, and other opportunities that become available.
A sponsor also prepares you for interviews and meetings that are beyond your grasp and will coach you how to position yourself, based on the business dynamics.
A mentor may or may not come from within your organisation. They will share with you their experiences based on the past. They can tell you, “Here’s what I did “when I was in your shoes.”
A mentor can also be a subject matter expert who can share with you real-time lessons on how to succeed in a function or role. While a mentor also gives advice, they do not advocate for you within your organisation. This is the key difference between a mentor and a sponsor.
3. Reverse Mentoring
Reverse mentoring is an effective way to build genuine awareness of the barriers faced by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees.
In reverse mentoring both the mentor and mentee have an opportunity to learn from each other. The focus of reverse mentoring is to increase the mentee’s inclusion competencies. However mentors are simultaneously provided with the opportunity to learn from their mentee’s experience, knowledge and skills so it can be considered as a career development opportunity for both parties.
Reverse mentoring can challenge established hierarchies and foster a culture where all experiences, skills and ideas are leveraged. Successful implementation of reverse mentoring improves BAME engagement, overall experience and retention.
Programmes and Coaching specifically for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff provides the psychologically safe space in which to discuss issues relating to their experience and overcome barriers, support career development. Helps staff Identify their personal style and the demands of the organisation without losing authenticity. Is an opportunity to develop trusted relationships with peers to allow for colleagues to open up and be vulnerable with each other as well to create a powerful network.
5. Shadowing & Shadow Boards
A “shadow board,” sometimes called a “mirror board,” is a group of diverse employees, regardless of level, that mirrors the traditional board of directors and embodies true diversity of thought, it can offer an organised remedy to address challenges, as well as creating succession and revealing the potential of your talent. Showing can provide the opportunity for minority ethnic staff to gain exposure to roles and colleagues that they would be able to otherwise, developing their network and aspirations.
What NOT to do:
- Think that your usual supplier of leadership development who doesn’t have a diverse facilitation team with deep, researched and lived experience can deliver this development for your ethnic minority colleagues.
- Embark on this journey of taking action to support ethnic minority career progression in your organisation without speaking with your ethnic minority colleagues about what their challenges and what they believe would be useful.
- Start without also having a plan to put the other points in race charter in place, if you don’t this just becomes a box ticking exercise to fix your ethnic minority colleagues and make them the problem, when it’s the system that needs fixing.
We have a diverse team, decades of expertise in leadership development, evidence based interventions, and lived experience. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you support ethnic minority career progression in your organisation.