Positive Action Programme for BAME staff

In 2015, we were approached by members of the Diversity and Inclusion team at the Cabinet Office who wanted to address a perpetual problem of BAME employees being under-represented at senior grades.  Pearn Kandola were selected to work with the Cabinet Office because of our research into successful positive action programmes, discrimination in the work place, and our expertise in the key areas of diversity and leadership development.


In the first stages of the project, we spoke to senior employees within the Cabinet Office about two key things: firstly, their day-to-day roles, and the skills they required to succeed in their job, and secondly, the skills that they look for in employees they are looking to promote into senior roles. This information enabled us to develop competencies that we could structure the development programme around, in order to give participants a clear, detailed and accurate understanding of what they need to demonstrate in order to be promotable to the senior civil service.  As an additional benefit, the competencies were then also available for the Cabinet Office to use to help formalise and improve their internal promotion processes.

Having established these competencies, we then created a development programme.  The programme was designed as a “stretch event”, whereby participants were presented with issues that they might typically experience in a senior civil service role.  Experienced Pearn Kandola psychologists worked alongside each participant to offer feedback on their current ability in line with the senior civil service requirements. This meant that by the end of the programme each person walked away with a very clear, detailed understanding of the ways in which they are already performing at a more senior level, and the areas where they need to improve.  Coaching calls were held between each participant and their Pearn Kandola coach over the following 12 months.


The results have been outstanding, with around 35% of each cohort being promoted within 12 months of being on the programme. It has been so successful, that we are now in our third year of running it, with plans forming for year four.

“People’s response to the development centres has just been fantastic.  So many of them have said it was the best development experience they’ve ever had. They say they really felt put under the microscope and kind of taken apart and put back together again – but in a good way!  People are now very motivated to step into the most senior positions in the Civil Service, which is just brilliant to see.”

“Pearn Kandola absolutely know their craft and it was amazing to work with their highly-qualified psychologists and coaches who really understood our needs. Everyone was so efficient and consistently went further than the extra mile – it didn’t seem like just a job to them. They were truly fantastic and we’re so pleased to be working with them again next year.”

— Tola Ayoola, META Programme and Diversity Lead in the Civil Service Talent team

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