Babita Sharma BBC

Addressing chronic under-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff at senior grades

The BBC brought in EW Group to design and deliver a series of workshops and action learning sets for its Black, Asian and minority ethnic positive action mentoring programme, RISE.

The broadcaster was under pressure from the UK media and leading entertainers over the lack of diverse ethnic representation at senior levels. As part of its response, the BBC assigned a group of Black, Asian and minority ethnic mentees to in-house mentors who would provide career development guidance over a 12-month period.

We trained BBC mentors and their mentees in intercultural dialogue and unconscious bias.

Working closely with the BBC’s Diversity team, we custom-built separate sessions for mentors and mentees. The aim: to ensure all participants would get maximum benefit out of RISE, and for the mentees to make recognised career advancements as a result.

Key areas addressed in the workshops included:

  • Understanding the benefits of diversity
  • Supporting cultural adaptability and intercultural dialogue across the BBC
  • Developing skills to open up important conversations inside and between departments
  • Encouraging knowledge-sharing and inspiration
  • Profile-raising
  • Building awareness of unwritten rules and other barriers that might bar Black, Asian and minority ethnic advancement
  • Using the right strategies to push back against traditional models of selection, including unconscious bias in the interview process.

All participants left with a practical toolkit to support them in being the best possible mentor or mentee. Every mentee also left the training with a comprehensive career development plan.

38% of the first cohort achieved recognised career development moves after just three months.

After the success of the first cohort, the BBC recommissioned EW Group to deliver on-going training to new mentors and mentees.

“The mentoring programme highlighted how crucial it is for us to tackle diversity problems head-on and the course provided a clear idea of how to get the best out of the mentor-mentee relationship.”

Babita Sharma, BBC News Presenter and RISE Programme Mentor

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