Centre for Excellence in Leadership
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CEL research highlights lack of progress for college BME staff

Six years after the publication of a landmark report by the Commission for Black Staff in FE, the position of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in colleges remains largely unchanged. These are the findings of research commissioned by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and presented in its report, "Succession planning and racial equality in the further education system", published today.

The research was carried out with existing BME staff, HR directors, and managers responsible for recruitment in employing organisations, and comprised three different self-completion questionnaires as well as face-to-face and telephone interviews. In addition, focus group discussions were held with BME staff and prospective BME staff.

Key findings of the research included:

* BME staff are still underrepresented in management and leadership roles in the FE system in England.
* Morale is low among BME staff, and many are leaving or wish to do so.
* Many BME staff believe that promotion is achieved through informal networking, from which they are excluded.
* Only 25 per cent of BME staff rate their appraisal as effective in providing clear and agreed training and development opportunities.
* Many BME staff are not confident about using formal complaints procedures to resolve instances of racial discrimination in their college.
* Most college leaders are not taking a consistent and strategic approach to succession planning.
* Individual, uncoordinated measures, including talent spotting and unofficial headhunting, increase the likelihood of discriminatory practice.

Lack of knowledge about the provision of subsidies for BME staff participating in CEL programmes acts as a barrier to participation.
There is, however, a high degree of participant satisfaction with CEL positive action programmes, and definite but limited evidence of these programmes' efficacy in helping staff achieve promotion.

CEL's chief executive, Lynne Sedgmore, said, "This is clearly a leadership issue. Every college HR director, principal and corporation chair needs to confront the situation and either consolidate, improve or begin using the instruments available to help them achieve progress, effect organisational change, and embed equality and diversity in their FE provision and organisational behaviour. Our report sets out a practical, viable strategy and recommendations that leaders can and should now act on with urgency.

"The succession challenge facing our sector makes it all the more important that we renew the workforce – making it attractive to those currently outside, ensuring that talent within is recognised and rewarded, and guaranteeing that progression is not inhibited by ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Failure to do this would be a chronic waste of talent that the sector simply cannot afford.

"As a sector, we must develop and foster a culture of inclusion, and of openness and trust. Many of the BME undergraduates who participated in the focus groups were highly attracted by the social cohesion mission of the sector, and its high proportion of BME learners – we need to make sure that the sector is attractive to them and welcoming.

"We are starting to see the impact of our work to equip sector leaders with the skills, knowledge and expertise to promote equalities. Those colleges that place a high degree of emphasis on equality, and whose senior leaders actively and visibly lend their weight to supporting sound policies and good practice, succeed in motivating and retaining BME staff. They should be the norm, not the exception.

"CEL is committed to increasing the diversity of sector leaders; we will continue building diversity competencies into all our programmes and services and work closely with sector partners to address the recommendations set out in the report."

An executive summary of "Succession planning and racial equality in the further education system" is available to download in PDF format from CEL's website at www.centreforexcellence.org.uk//UsersDoc/FERacialEqualityExecSumm.pdf


About CEL

The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) was launched in October
2003 as a key national agency within the Success for All initiative.
CEL's remit is to foster and support leadership improvement, reform and transformation throughout the sector. It serves the existing and future leaders of all providers within the further education and skills system, including FE colleges, training and work-based learning providers, adult and community providers, offender learning, specialist colleges and voluntary organisations. To date, more than 1,160 different organisations and around 38,000 individual participants have engaged with CEL.

From 1 April 2008, CEL and the Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) began working together to form a new sector-owned organisation dedicated to supporting excellence and leadership development in the further education and skills sector. The new organisation was created after consultations with sector leaders identified a strong desire for an organisation that would be sector-led.

Combining the best aspects of two different and highly successful sector bodies, the new organisation will focus on learners and on developing excellent and sustainable FE provision across the sector. Leadership development will underpin and form an important part of the organisation's strategic role in the sector.


CEL press office

Lindsay Baugh: 07736 246 697 or 01707 392 552
Email: lindsay.baugh@howardsgate.co.uk

Centre for Excellence in Leadership
Fourth Floor, 47 Mark Lane

Telephone: 0870 060 3278
Facsimile: 020 7297 8490
Website: www.centreforexcellence.org.uk

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