The project has aimed to bring together senior (white) leaders/managers within the University with BME staff, in order to offer personal 'mutual' learning. The project has sought to enable development, in relation to transcultural leadership competence, and to provide progression opportunities to help increase confidence and encourage reflective practice.
Partners have been expected to meet at least once a month for six months. The primary purpose of these meetings has been to share perspectives on building a role as a senior manager within the university and on the role and issues of being a BME member of staff, within the context of a university such as Bradford.
There was a great deal of commitment to the scheme initially, with no real difficulty in finding members from the majority ethnic group. However, because of under-representation, it was not so easy to find BME participants who were at a level to benefit realistically as true partners.
The partners have been meeting, some more frequently than proposed, others less often, and are beginning to make real progress. Initially they were very careful and handled each other with 'kid gloves'. But the pairs that have got beyond that stage have been surprising and 'delighting' each other with the riches that they have shared.
The project manager has kept in touch with individuals and pairs by face-to-face meetings and, more often now, by regular telephone calls. She offers advice and access to resources and other experiences from around the world. Another very successful feature of the project has been the update meetings where people have been able to share some of their experiences and to ask questions in an increasingly safe environment. We are now entering a phase of bringing in experts on topics such as International Leadership Competencies and Recognising and Managing Talent to hold half day seminars. These have enabled the contextualising of learning and hastened, or made more explicit, the process of actively employing their joint learning to the work that they all do in leading the university.
This project is enabling us to see that the future leadership of the University of Bradford might come from sources that we have neither traditionally expected nor experienced. Through CULM, we are continuing to build trust and we are creating an environment that is promoting the transcultural competence of our managers.
Professor Chris Taylor, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford