In the UK, only 1 in 16 of the Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) workforce is in senior management and just four of FTSE 100 CEOs are from an ethnic minority. Within our own organisation, increasing the diversity of our leadership is central to our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. But how do we go about it? One way is to give people the confidence and skills to go further in their career through mentoring.

Leadership role models

When Jaskaran Singh, a university student on placement, expressed concerns about not seeing someone like himself on the board, two senior colleagues took him under their wing. They were Larry Banda, Director of Financial Planning, and Rickard Beck, Leader of Strategic Planning and External Relations. Their approach? Finding common ground, and building from there, with plenty of sound advice thrown in.

“I shadowed Larry, went to all his one-to-ones, attended project boards and various other meetings. I learnt so much. How he did things, how he spoke and conducted himself. I’ve since taken this all on board. Larry also told me not to take myself too seriously – it was great advice,” says Jas.

He also spent time with Richard Beck, who gave him a totally different perspective on his career. “I felt like there were real similarities between us, despite our differences.”

One added benefit of mentoring is that the learnings go both ways. “One of the best outcomes from participating in Diversity Week was getting to know Jas and a few others.” His advice to Jas? To deal with any key knowledge or skills gaps early, before it’s too late.

“Competence gaps tend to narrow future options,” says Richard, “so why limit your possibilities?” After all, an inclusive leadership is one where those with the right skills rise to the top.”

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