Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees are significantly under-represented at senior levels in the Home Office. As part of his objectives as Race Equality Champion, the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill was committed to increasing the number of BAME employees and women in senior roles.
In response to feedback from BAME staff focus groups and with input and support from the Home Office’s race equality staff network The NETWORK, Mark set up Access, a pilot internal programme for BAME employees, and the Removing Barriers Programme under the Civil Service’s Talent Action Plan. The findings indicated that having the right support, inputs and mentoring would help BAME employees feel more confident to explore their talents and reach their full potential.
BAME employees from HEO to Grade 6 level who were not an existing talent scheme were invited to apply for the 20 Access places. Candidates were selected using a ‘strength-based’ process with examples from their four strongest competencies and a short statement of suitablility. The programme was sponsored by Mark, the Diversity Strategy Board and Sir Charles Montgomery, the Home Office Diversity Champion. It was run alongside other cross-Civil Service talent programmes in order to help the Home Office focus on widening its BAME talent pool.
The Access programme includes ‘personal branding’, an area which BAME employees identified as important to them and which they wanted to learn more about whilst remaining who they are at work. To help participants embody their personal brand, build their resilience and enhance their networking skills, the Home Office uses innovative learning techniques. Access will also explore other ways of expressing leadership style, such as leading through volunteering in the charity sector and the dynamics of being a ‘positive deviant’ in the workplace, which are unique selling points in the programme.
Access is a self-nominating talent programme and all applicants are supported by their line managers through authentic partnership and career conversations, which are encouraged and facilitated by the programme. Participants were also matched to a member of the Senior Civil Service for a job shadowing day to encourage active mentoring. Access’ development offer was designed on the 70:20:10 model, including self-awareness sessions, stretch assignments, formal learning, external speaker events, project work, temporary promotions and action learning sets.
To date, 12 participants have been promoted, including four HEOs to SEO, one Grade 7 to Grade 6, five SEOs to Grade 7 and two Grade 6s to Senior Civil Service. Other participants have reported increased confidence, self-awareness and motivation to succeed in their career.
The Home Office is delighted with the outcomes of Access and is now looking at how it can extend the principles of the programme to wider groups. The department will continue to mobilise its efforts and work with staff support networks to ensure content and broader objectives offer the highest quality and best potential outcomes possible.