White Rose Equity in Leadership – Pilot Project

Update December 2023

The Equity in Leadership programme forms part of a broader commitment to challenge the structural barriers impacting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues at the regional level of the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Using a collaborative approach to enhance the career development of BAME colleagues the programme aims to support progression to more senior leadership roles for both academic and professional services pathways. In turn this will promote diversity in leadership across the regional universities.

In June 2023 the universities held a launch and programme co-creation event for the seventeen participants on this pilot. This event developed two key themes for the programme which have subsequently been developed into a range of interventions including opportunities for group coaching, leadership shadowing and one-to-one feedback and support from a leading recruiter.

The next event, in December 2023, will be the first of three events providing opportunities for networking between participants and the senior leadership of a hosting institution.


Supporting Career Development of Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic Staff Aiming to Advance into Senior Leadership Positions

Guidance and Expression of Interest Form

Deadline: Monday 5th December 2022


Summary of the Opportunity

The White Rose University Consortium is delighted to launch the new White Rose Equity in Leadership pilot project. The key points for this opportunity are:

  • We are seeking Expressions of Interest from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic staff members aiming to advance into senior academic and professional services leadership positions in the next two to three years.
  • The project aims to use a collaborative approach to enhance the career development of individuals to support their aspiration to progress into more senior roles. The pilot project approach is a combination of working with the cohort to identify opportunities for career development, and then providing support for these.
  • An important feature for this initiative is a co-creation approach. Specific activities will be built around the input from the cohort, and we are very open to trying out new ideas and novel approaches.
  • The project was initiated by the three Vice-Chancellors. Working as a consortium will create additional career development opportunities beyond what would be achieved by a single institution.

Deadline: Monday 5th December 2022


Overview and Vice-Chancellor Support

The White Rose Equity in Leadership project will use a collaborative approach to enhance the career development of staff members from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic groups to support their progress into more senior roles. A key feature of the project is to give additional career development opportunities to help individuals on a leadership trajectory.

The White Rose Board (the three Vice-Chancellors) initiated this project and will continue to support this. This is a completely new area for White Rose collaboration and is being taken forward as a focused pilot project to enable us to press ahead swiftly. We can then build on this to further develop the initiative.

Strategic Focus – Target Group

This pilot project is focused on individuals at a career stage where they are aiming to advance into senior academic and professional services leadership positions in the next two to three years. The level is those seeking to step into Head of Department/School, Dean, PVC, DVC and VC roles (or their equivalent counterparts) on the academic side, and at those seeking to step into Director level posts or Executive Director or Executive Board roles (COO, CFO, Registrar, HRD etc.) on the professional services side.

The White Rose Board has agreed to initially focus on colleagues from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic groups. This enables us to proceed with a focused pilot project. Assuming the pilot project is successful, then the focus could move to consider other underrepresented groups. The pilot project will be implemented in a way that is mindful of intersectional issues, and that all the individuals on the pilot will have different experiences to bring to this.

Rationale

It is clear that change is needed. EDI is core to what the Universities do, but diversity in senior posts in the sector is poor. There is a shared desire to create something bolder and more ambitious to address this long-term problem. The pilot project approach will be quicker to start delivering change than a broader approach. This allows us to try out new ideas. In addition to supporting the individuals on this pilot project, there is the opportunity to learn from the cohort’s lived experience to help the Universities understand and remove barriers. This will be embedded in the pilot project, and will provide a valuable source of feedback, with the aspiration of addressing identified issues (either individually or collaboratively).

Project Activities and Benefits

An important feature for this initiative is a co-creation approach with the participants, rather than jumping to interventions. With the co-creation approach, we wish for this to be fully open to input from the cohort. The specific activities will be built around the input from cohort, and we are very open to trying out new ideas and novel approaches. This approach does mean that there is a level of ambiguity at the start of this pilot project and so it is difficult to precisely define all the structure and timings at the start – this will become clearer as we proceed with the pilot project.

The pilot project approach is a combination of working with the cohort to identify opportunities for career development, and then providing support for these. It may be useful to give some illustrative examples of potential opportunities (but, these are just suggestions rather than only what can be done).

  • Mentorship: The project is focused on supporting individuals wishing to move into a leadership position. There can be a real benefit in having a senior member of staff mentoring an individual on this project. For example, someone with an aspiration to move to PVC level role may hugely benefit from spending time with someone already doing this role. An advantage of working collaboratively on this is that the most appropriate mentor might be at one of the partner universities, rather than the mentee’s home university.
  • Sponsorship: There may be sponsorship opportunities that would benefit individuals. The role of a sponsor is around advocacy for career advancement. The sponsor may support the individual through activities including making connections to key people and career development opportunities, and raising the profile of the individual.
  • Addressing specific areas to improve: The project may help individuals identify specific areas to address in order to be better positioned to take the next career step. As an example, it may be that the individual would benefit from gaining in-depth experience of how university finances work – the aim would then be to give the opportunity to benefit from this experience. For some individuals, it may be that it works best if they gain this experience at one of the partner universities rather than their home university (they might be more open about potential areas to improve outside of their home university, and perhaps not wanting to admit any gaps or lack or experience to their home university).
  • Gain different experiences: There may be an opportunity for individuals to gain valuable experience of how other research-intensive universities operate. For example, someone who has spent their career at one of the universities might benefit from spending time at one of the partner universities for specific activities to broaden their experience.
  • Opening up further opportunities: By pursuing this opportunity, it makes senior management aware of the ambition and career aspirations of the individuals. This might then be useful if there are opportunities for the individuals to contribute to strategic initiatives.
  • External perspective for recruitment: A key feature of the pilot project is the external perspective and advice for the cohort. The White Rose Board had agreed to use Odgers Berndtson. The rationale for this is that the project focus is on the career stage where individuals are ready to advance into senior academic and professional services leadership positions – this mirrors the levels at which Odgers recruit and thus where their advice, expertise and guidance would be most valuable. Odgers has identified specific areas where they will be able to work with the individuals to help identify actions to take to support career progression.
  • Cohort: A potential outcome is that the cohort identifies specific opportunities that should continue as a cohort (or a subset of the cohort). There might be common interest in specific additional training (for example, aspects of a Development Centre) or there might be value in regular events to bring this cohort together.
  • Secondment opportunities: Secondment opportunities may also be an additional benefit. For example, if one of the universities was looking for a person for a secondment, then the pool in the cohort might be worth considering. This would give the university a fresh perspective and challenge. It would give the individual valuable additional experience.
  • Influencing: It is anticipated that senior manager mentors/sponsors will be speaking with the people on this pilot project, and have the opportunity to learn from their lived experience. This should also help contribute to a positive culture.
  • Feedback: It is important to acknowledge that the individuals on this project may have got to where they are despite systemic challenges that exist, and so their lived experience may be a valuable source of feedback for the Universities, to understand and address systemic barriers, in order to support diverse talent.

Expression of Interest and Selection Process

We are using an Expression of Interest (EoI) approach to encourage individuals to apply and to minimise potential barriers. Interested individuals should submit a completed EoI form and a CV to White Rose. The EoI form and details are included at the end of this document.

It is important to acknowledge that staff members are busy, and we want this pilot project to have the flexibility to work for the individuals. We are seeking expressions of interest from individuals who wish to engage with this pilot project within the next 12 months. The aim is to put together cohorts that suit the availability of the individuals. So, if you wish to engage with this, but cannot do this immediately, then we aim to accommodate this.

Given the nature of this pilot project, and the focus on co-creation, then it is difficult to accurately predict the time commitment at this point in time. However, we would anticipate this to be no more than a total of one day per month for a maximum of one year.

After the EoI has been received, the relevant line manager will be updated that the individual has submitted an EoI for this pilot project. This will explain the background to the project, and that they will be updated once a decision has been made by the White Rose Board on the successful applicants.

The White Rose Board will make the final decision on selecting individuals. This may include input from a diverse collaborative selection panel. The selection criteria are:

  • How well the individual’s career aspirations fit this initiative. This includes whether they are at a suitable level for this initiative.
  • The opportunity for the individual to benefit from this initiative. For example, have they articulated what they wish to get from this, and how they might contribute to the cohort.

Selected Individuals

If you are selected then White Rose will communicate the outcome to you. The line manager of individuals will also be contacted to explain the situation and confirm that they are supportive (this will include a message that the individuals were selected by the VCs).

The aim is to have completed cohort recruitment in December. This will then give us an initial group of individuals to work with. Once a decision has been made on the EoIs, the availability and preference for timing will be taken into account to put cohorts together.

Having identified an initial cohort (of around 20 people) then the plan is to bring this cohort together in a coordinated way to identify and develop opportunities. Key points:

  • How the cohort is brought together will be based on the preference of the cohort. We wish to make this inclusive, and structured in a way that best suits the individuals to engage with the initiative. If the cohort wished, then it may be that the cohort is brought together with an in-person meeting (or meetings) to build relationships. This could include additional guests/speakers. The structure should take into account the information in the EoIs and input from the cohort. For in-person meetings, it may be preferable to use a venue away from campus. Dates will be chosen to accommodate the cohort.
  • The engagement will include an external recruitment perspective provided by Odgers Berndtson. This will help set the scene and identify specific areas which individuals might need to work on for career progression.
  • The proposed approach is to use an external facilitator with relevant experience to support any events and ensure delivery of what we want to achieve.

The plan is to bring outcomes back to the White Rose Board and explore how these can be supported. The expectation is that through this process there will have been specific actions/interventions identified to help the individuals. The plan is to implement this where it is feasible. For example, if it is clear that an individual would benefit from being mentored by a member of senior management at one of the other two universities, then we should aim to make this happen. Another example is that if it was identified that a person needs additional experience in certain areas (perhaps leading on a strategic initiative) to make progress with their career, then the focus should be on how can we give this person the opportunity to gain this experience.

Not Selected

The plan is that for individuals who expressed an interest and are not selected this time, then the host university will explore whether other types of development and support can be offered to help them. This might include people who would be appropriate for future rounds, for example individuals that are too early in their career for this initiative.

White Rose Collaboration Approach

Implementing this initiative as White Rose (rather than the Universities working individually) will give a different and more external feel than would be achieved by a single institution. This environment will enable the sharing of participants’ experience across institutions, thus encouraging a wider perspective. The engagement with the cohort to identify and develop additional career opportunities will work better having more people to generate compelling ideas for interventions. An important aspect of this initiative is that working as a consortium will create additional career development opportunities beyond what would be achieved by a single institution. A collaborative approach gives greater numbers to benefit, with the potential to create a cohort or peer network support element. There is a real opportunity for a collective approach to drive change at a greater pace than would be achieved by the Universities working on their own.

Questions and Contact

White Rose will take ownership of running the pilot project. Please contact White Rose in the first instance if you wish to find out more and are considering expressing an interest in this opportunity. Please contact Craig Walker at c.walker@whiterose.ac.uk

Craig Walker, Director, White Rose University Consortium, Tuesday 4th October 2022


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