Ethnic minorities still under-represented in senior further education roles

Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff working in further education (FE) are still under-represented in management and leadership roles in the sector.

A study by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL), Succession Planning and Racial Equality in the Further Education System, found a glass ceiling still existed for BME staff, six years after a landmark report on institutional racism in the sector.

Just 27% of managers in the Greater London region are from BME backgrounds, compared to the diversity profile of the wider population. In other areas of the country, the differences are even more extreme.

The research was carried out with staff, HR directors and managers responsible for recruitment in FE organisations. Key findings included:

  • Morale is low among BME staff – 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% of BME staff rated 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.

Lynne Sedgmore, CEL’s chief executive, said a lack of clear leadership in the sector was a problem.

“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,” she said.

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