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Leicester's Future Leaders


Leicester is one of the most diverse cities in the United Kingdom but this is not reflected in the business leadership in the city. UK research has shown that having a mixed ethnicity workforce brings fresh thinking into teams and drives business growth, as well as being an imperative for equality.

To help Leicester’s businesses recruit and retain more students and graduates from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, De Montfort University (DMU) is leading a £400,000 project called Leicester’s Future Leaders, co-funded by the Office for Students, from 2019-22. 

In partnership with Freeths LLP, Eileen Richards Recruitment and Brewin Dolphin, the project activities will address the issues including the way jobs are advertised, how businesses present themselves and the role of unconscious bias in recruitment. The project is supported by expert organisations including the Prince’s Trust, Access Generation, Inclusive Grads and Gradconsult.

By working together, we are developing a toolkit to support businesses in recruiting, retaining and promoting talented graduates from BAME backgrounds.

We’re looking for businesses who would like to be part of this exciting programme, so whether you’re a start-up, SME or a corporate, we’d love to hear from you.

Strategic approach

Ethnic minority diversity should ideally be represented at all levels, teams and functions within your organisation. Therefore, increasing the diversity of your workforce requires inclusive initiatives and actions that are implemented together to deliver real cultural change in the workplace.

Research shows that businesses that take a strategic approach help deliver progress and support practices which encourage greater levels of both diversity and inclusion.

The diagram below/on page x highlights the four key tools which underpin the Race at Work charter principles, a call to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors to take practical steps to ensure workplaces are tackling barriers ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression

The following pages provide guidance for how to implement these tools whether your organisation is new to this journey, or has aspirations to be recognised as a best practice employer.

The core principles of a successful Diversity and Inclusion strategy

Data and culture and leadership arrangements create a foundation for the strategy, and support decisions and actions for attraction, recruitment and retention/progression stages of the employee journey.

The Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for inclusive recruitment

  1. Data: Analyse Your Workforce, and evaluate your progress

    You may be familiar with the expression "What gets measured gets done - You cannot manage what you don't measure!". This is why data is the foundation for a diversity and inclusion strategy.

    Data insights will help you to understand your organisation’s current situation (baseline), which in turn will allow your organisation to devise a strategy and action plan. This would entail consistent data collection and analysis that will indicate opportunities for action and enable you to measure change and success.

  2. Attraction: Become an employer of choice for talented graduates

    A major challenge for businesses today is attracting a diverse range of talented people, and you can widen your talent pool by reaching out to different audiences and encouraging people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. To avoid attracting a narrow pool of candidates it is important to build a compelling employer brand reputation that is distinctive and helps prospective employees to know what makes your company different from the rest. Consistently communicating your key brand message on your website, job advertisements and social media is one of the key attraction strategies that will attract a broad range of talented people.
  3. Recruitment: Secure the most diverse talent

    Research shows that organisations that review their talent development, and tailor their recruitment activities to take into account a graduate’s economic background, gender and ethnicity* are more likely to have better success at achieving better workplace diversity and inclusion.

    Employers should ensure that their internal recruitment processes do not include any barriers to attracting the best BAME talent. At the start of the recruitment cycle, wider a recruitment processes such as the drafting of job specifications should use more inclusive language, and the where possible the selection and interview stage should include individuals from different backgrounds to eliminate any possible bias.

  4. Retention: Support ethnic minority employees’ progression

    Becoming a diverse and inclusive workforce isn’t just about statistics or meeting a quota, it is equally important to ensure that all of your employees are treated fairly and feel included and valued. Organisations should have policies and processes in place which support and encourage fair treatment across the organisation.

    Embedding mentoring, reverse mentoring and encouraging career progression in your workforce will help your business to retain the best talent.

How to use the toolkit

There isn’t a one size fits all approach to tackling the career progression gap that impacts BAME graduates. Also, achieving or improving workforce diversity will not happen overnight.

The guidance in this toolkit is a good place to start as it recommends four key tools that will help your organisation make significant progress overtime.  

There are two levels of guidance, the ‘Developing’ level for organisations who are wanting to understand their baseline in order to develop a strategy to increase BAME graduate talent in their organisation. For organisations who may have set new targets/goals or want to optimise their approach, they will benefit from referring to the guidance and recommended activities at the ‘Enhancing’ level.

Why are we focusing on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic graduates?

Competitive advantage

  1. A team where everyone belongs is a more productive team

    Open and inclusive workplace cultures, where all staff feel valued, respected and recognised, enable employers to recruit and retain the talent they need. A happier workforce contributes to better productivity, which in turn could deliver £24 billion of benefits to the UK economy, 1.3% of UK GDP.
  2. Outperform your competitors

    People are your most valuable asset. Ethnic and cultural diversity, particularly within executive teams, enables better financial performance by attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing decision making and building wide customer insight.
  3. Unlock innovation and drive market growth

    Creativity is at the heart of business innovation, and innovation is the engine of growth.

    Diverse and inclusive teams are more likely to be creative than homogenous groups as they contribute a wide range of experiences, perspectives, and problem - solving techniques which are all imperative to targeting diverse and untapped customer markets.

  4. Infographic statistics

    By 2025, 65% of the workforce will be generation X (born mid-60s to early 80s), and 63% of this generation consider it important to be part of a diverse team with diverse skills

    83% of inclusive and diverse workplaces demonstrate higher individual performance than non-diverse workplaces.

    Companies with the most ethnically and culturally diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.

Secure untapped talent

By 2030, 20% of the UK working age population will come from a BAME background. However, this ethnic balance is not reflected in the majority of workplaces, with many ethnic minorities concentrated in lower paying jobs and underrepresented in top management positions.

  1. The skills and knowledge gap

    National and local studies have shown repeatedly that organisations do not find graduates to be as work-ready as they would expect. The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership’s ‘Skills for the future report’ identified that, the rate at which job roles and required skills are evolving, especially in the era of Covid-19, means that employers need find effective methods for upskilling and reskilling.

    However, A Bloomberg survey revealed that 65% of companies and 56% of academic institutions viewed graduates as ‘ill-prepared’ in some way.

  2. Build the future workforce

    ‘You cannot be what you cannot see’.

    Visibility and diverse representation within the workforces integral for Generation Z – young people between the ages of 18-24 who have an expectation workplace will be diverse and inclusive, and who will assess employers’ credentials on this basis. It is not enough to talk a good game, when a majority of under-35s want to see that organisations promoting diversity are backing that up with leadership teams that include under-represented minorities.

  3. Infographic statistics:

    Generation Z (Gen Z) are highly flexible, with 83% of graduates in the UK who are willing to relocate for work. They also rank their relationship with their work team as one of their top concerns.

    Leicester is included in the list of the top ten cities in the UK with the highest proportion of working age people from BME backgrounds with 45.2% being from a BAME background.

    56% of Gen Z in a study agreed that they would be hesitant to take a job in an organisation that says it is diverse if it does not have any unrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles.


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