We worked with a group of NHS organisations who were concerned that they had an underrepresentation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) leaders at a senior level despite no lack of shortage of applications. The rate of success to appointment was less than 1%. No-one felt this was acceptable.

What we did

  • We completed an analysis of existing HR policies and procedures and found these to be good practice.  This led us to the hypothesis that there was a deeply entrenched cultural issue that needed to be addressed.
  • The behaviours we uncovered through detailed 1-1 interviews and focus groups were -mostly unconscious and unintentional. However, the resulting impact was discrimination. We did not shy away from feeding this back.
  • We worked with the Executive Team and Non-Exec Directors to clarify their commitment and gain buy in to mentoring and supporting talented BME staff from across the organisations.
  • We recruited talented BME individuals from across the organisation ready for a move to a senior role through an intense communication campaign. Successful people participated in an Aspiring Directors programme which we designed and ran. We worked from a position of strength and helped participants to understand how to better navigate complex political systems. We placed a focus on influencing and provided experiences of working at a corporate level.
  • The modular approach was supported by business related simulations, taking part in an action learning set, regular mentoring from an Executive Director (ED) and an opportunity to take part in a mock interview with EDs from similar organisations to assess readiness and provide honest feedback.
  • In order to create momentum for sustained change, we worked intensively with HR to support mind-set change and to develop effective talent management processes that would benefit the whole organisation.


These organisations achieved improved staff survey results.

There were increased applications and successful appointments to senior roles from the BME population.

A better understanding of the positivity that curiosity and challenge brings to the workplace in terms of performance was created along with a greater engagement and sense of purpose and belonging.

These factors have had a positive impact on patient outcomes.