Mentoring programme for BME managers


05 / 05 / 2010

SHA region

Yorkshire and The Humber

The organisation

In April 2009 NHS Bradford and Airedale and Bradford and Airedale Community Health Services became two organisations. They serve a population of around 500,000 people. Employing around 2500 employees, the organisations have within their boundaries, 89 GP practices, 64 NHS dentists and five private dental practices, 108 pharmacies, 64 optometry practices, six community hospitals and two diagnostic and treatment centres.

What we did and why

One of the essential work streams of the Yorkshire and Humber leadership development group is building a diverse and inclusive leadership across the region.  The focus on leadership diversity reflects the commitment to create change and improvement at the highest level.

The ‘promote NHS black, minority and ethnic (BME) executive mentoring programme’ is a partnership between NHS Yorkshire and Humber, ATL West Yorkshire and NHS Bradford and Airedale to enable BME staff, who are under-represented in senior roles to access career development opportunities.

The programme:
• is an exciting and innovative approach to develop and nurture talent from across the region so that there is more diversity at a senior level
• seeks to influence and create change at a strategic level through the involvement of mentors who are from an indigenous background to work with a group of mentees from BME backgrounds
• is designed as a two way transcultural learning process, this means that both mentor and mentee are engaged in learning and benefit from trading perspectives, where in addition to professional development issues, diversity issues are a key theme for discussion and learning.

The development of mentor/mentee relationships will provide a real opportunity for shared learning about diversity and the wider challenges facing the NHS.

How we did it

It was important from the outset that this intervention was viewed as an integral part of core business for Yorkshire and Humber around the leadership, talent management and the organisational development agenda. This was achieved through:
• making links with the building an inclusive and diverse leadership agenda for the region
• becoming part of the INNOV8 programme commissioned by the Yorkshire and Humber leadership development group. ‘Innov8-Reframing Diversity Leadership in the Yorkshire and Humber NHS’  is a programme which seeks to reframe diversity as an issue of opportunity and capability, with clear links to quality of services from a patient perspective. The business impact case rather than legislative compliance as a main driver for diversity. 

Twenty-four mentors from executive board level were recruited from across the region; the mentors were all from an indigenous background with a good gender mix. The mentees comprised a diverse group of individuals from band six and above working in both clinical and non clinical areas.

The design of the programme delivered by HNA Associates included training sessions for both mentors and mentees. The training sessions, one day for the mentors and two days for the mentees, focused on both parties being prepared to engage in the transcultural relationship as a core theme of the programme. An element of these sessions also included skills development around engaging with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and assessing personal and professional challenges relating to this.

The results and next steps

The training sessions were evaluated positively, many mentors and mentees found the preparatory training valuable in terms of developing the awareness and knowledge required to embark on the programme.

It is planned that the mentoring relationships will be for a year, which will include around six meetings.  There will also be two network meetings for all participants.

The programme has offered a real opportunity for shared learning around the diversity agenda. The business benefits will be both for the individual and the NHS as a whole. This intervention has created a pool of talented people from BME backgrounds with skills to access opportunities across the region.

The networks and relationships developed will lead to diversity becoming part of mainstream business and thinking particularly in the current economic climate, with resources being reduced and service improvement high on national and local agendas.

These personal relationships will contribute towards the development of an inclusive NHS which better understands the needs of local communities to deliver services which are culturally sensitive and appropriate.

The programme has been further commissioned to be delivered across the wider Yorkshire and Humber region, building on the success of the initial programme which was launched by Clare Chapman in July 2009.

The programme also complements national initiatives which include the Breaking through Programme and INNOV8.

Further information and contact details

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