Leading in Colour: The Fierce Urgency of NOW!

‘Leading in Colour – the fierce urgency of NOW’ is aimed at white leaders across the public sector, and in particular, at Chief Executives, Council Leaders, Partnership Boards and their teams.

It’s designed to be both an urgent call for action and a helpful resource to support you to become and stay an inclusive, culturally competent leader in a fairer workplace, as well as an active contributor towards creating fairer communities. It provides the context, the inescapable evidence and the tools to help you initiate deep-rooted and sustained change for colleagues and for communities.

This publication offers you insights and learning on understanding and combatting inequality, recognises the context of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and highlights what we know so far about the impact of COVID-19 on existing inequalities experienced by Black people.

It shares the voices and views of Black staff and provides an overview of multi-dimensional racism on the lived experiences of families and communities.

It constructively challenges you to consider and act on all forms of racism in your workplace and across the communities you support and serve. Recognise your own instincts to resist or minimise concepts. Stay with troubling feelings as you explore your thinking. Use them to galvanise your leadership action.

We offer practical support, strategies and resources to you, a white leader, to help you act on uncomfortable truths and lead enduring, inclusive change.

So read, reflect, own and step up to the plate to lead and champion your organisation and your communities to become and stay inclusive, diverse and fair, right now.

What our readers have said:

What’s in this publication for you?

Wherever you lead, the brief context ‘Looking you in the eyes’ highlights the urgency of coming off the touchline and leading the action to combat racism within the workplace and for local people now.

Subsequent sections bring together interconnected issues and ideas in one place, with direct questions throughout to challenge and channel your thinking and action:

‘Why you and why now?’:

Sets out a direct and personal challenge to you

‘What are your Black staff saying – are you listening?’:

Offers an approach to hearing staff voices and views

‘Uncomfortable Truths – what we know now: COVID-19, Racial Inequality and hatred’:

Provides emerging learning from what’s happening right now

‘Seeing the whole picture – using what we know (and can’t unknow) differently’:

Gives insights into understanding and addressing the local impact of multi-dimensional racism

‘Compounding and multiplying inequality – opportunity for change you can lead and deliver’:

Suggests using Cultural Competence as a way to tackle entrenched, everyday racism and promote and embed learning within service design and delivery

‘Starting with self – what’s it like to be a white leader?’:

Why this is so upfront, so personal and so urgent

‘Becoming and staying inclusive, diverse and fair’:

The moral imperative and organisational benefits of promoting and sustaining a diverse environment and an inclusive culture …and the steps you can take to achieve both

‘Courageous Conversations’:

A powerful tool to use to initiate irreversible change organisationally, across partnerships and within communities

‘What actions and risks am I prepared to take personally to create and sustain fairer workplaces and fairer communities?’:

A call to action for you to ask, reflect and respond to

Resources to help:

Conversations - to support leaders in this work • Assurances - local leaders might wish to seek • Glossary - of words and phrases in this space • A curated resource - of key blogs, books and podcasts for you to draw on

And the last word:

an end note and thank you from Jo Davidson, Principal of The Staff College to encourage and challenge you to start Leading in Colour now!

So, read, reflect, be supported and challenged into action, recognising the fierce urgency of NOW!

Get your FREE copy of 'Leading in Colour: The Fierce Urgency of NOW!'

Meet the authors

Rose Durban

Rose began her career as a teacher for children with SEND. She’s a former DCS in a number of authorities and has worked as a DfE intervention adviser. She’s an executive coach, currently doing some independent children’s services improvement support, including leading a number of peer reviews. She’s a member of a NICE public health committee and adviser to their centre for guidelines.

Rose is the Independent Person for her local council, a Samaritans volunteer and chairs two local school boards. She is a trustee with the Laurel Trust, which supports research in schools serving areas of multiple disadvantage.

What matters to her is working to change lives and life-chances across communities and ensuring that those who work with them are safe, supported and able to do their jobs well.

Meera Spillett

Meera, a former Director of Children’s Services with a social work background, has over 35 years’ experience in the social care and education sector. Meera helped design the Black and Asian Leadership Initiative (BALI) for The Staff College to support aspiring Black leaders. She is the author of ‘Black Leaders Missing in Action’ and ‘Cultural Competence’.

Meera continues to support BALI and contributes towards anti-racist and culturally competent approaches to support organisations, individual practitioners, and their communities. She has recently joined the DHSC Advisory Group for the Social Care Workforce Race Equality Standard. Meera started life as a looked after child, is disabled and manages a number of long-term health conditions, she is a breast cancer survivor following treatment in 2020.

Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE

Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE is a veteran educator who received her professional training in England, but her breadth of experience is international. Rosemary is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, University College London. Her ground-breaking leadership work as part of the London Challenge 2003-2011 was in developing a leadership preparation programme focussed on increasing the numbers of Black and Asian educators in London Schools.

Rosemary provides bespoke training and coaching internationally and is a sought-after keynote speaker in her areas of expertise and passion, namely developing anti-racist decolonising practice, in pursuit of equity and social justice in educational leadership. Her book on decolonising leadership preparation builds on her work in the UK and Canada and will be published in autumn 2021. In 2016 Rosemary was awarded an MBE for thirty-five years’ service to education in the United Kingdom. She was honoured to accept the award for recognition by her peers of activism.