‘Inclusivity at its best’ – City council’s Stepping Up programme wins prestigious awards

October 2, 2020

A Bristol City Council scheme aiming to make the city’s leadership more diverse has won two major national awards, with judges describing it as ‘inclusivity at its best’.

The innovative Stepping Up talent programme was launched by the council two years ago specifically for black and minority ethnic people, disabled people and women. 

Since then nearly 150 participants have graduated from the award-winning programme, which is backed by dozens of Bristol employers, including financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown, law firm Osborne Clarke, the MoD and NHS.

Now it has gained national recognition at this year’s prestigious Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) awards, being named ‘Best Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’ and ‘Overall Winner’ at the CIPD People Management awards 2020.

The programme gives people from under-represented BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) and Women and disabled groups formal leadership training and the chance to ‘step up’ in challenging roles across the public and private sector.

It was launched by Baroness MacGregor-Smith, the former CEO of Bristol-based outsourcing group MITIE and head of a government review into black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) access to the labour market, and the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees.

More than 50% of the participants have stepped into more senior roles, while 20 per cent applied for magistrate opportunities, directly impacting on fair representation of BAME within the judiciary system.

The two CIPD awards takes the tally of accolades won by the programme to five. It has also been shortlisted for the LGC Award, which will take place next month.

Deputy mayor and cabinet lead for communities, equalities, and public health Asher Craig said: “We are delighted to have won the CIPD awards for Overall Winner and for Best Diversity and Inclusion Initiative during National Inclusion Week. It couldn’t be better timing and recognition of the great work of Bristol City Council.

“Diversity and inclusion is about creating inclusive environments and practices where employees can be themselves, are valued for their differences, and are supported to work at their best.

“I would like to thank all of the Stepping up mentors, partners, sponsors and participants for making it so successful. The programme is a shining example of the One City Approach to tackling inequality in Bristol. Our commitment to the ongoing work continues.”

Saliha Ahmed, who joined the programme this year and has recently moved into a new role as consultation and engagement officer, added: “I joined the Stepping Up programme because, as a single BME parent, my network and access to information is greatly reduced.

“It’s been great because of the opportunity to learn from other sectors, to realise my own leadership goals and gain the confidence to step into roles I hadn’t imagined for myself.”

Evaluation of Stepping Up carried out by exeternal, independent research shows:

  • 50% of Stepping Up participants have stepped up into a more significant role
  • 20% of Stepping Up participants applied for magistrate opportunities
  • 100% of participants have indicated an increase in self-confidence
  • 100% of participants have increased their leadership capabilities
  • 15% of participants have secured non-executive and trustee appointments
  • 1 Participant elected as a town councillor


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