Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme & Stories

‘BAME’ Staff and White Staff Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme

The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (‘BAME’) Staff and White Staff Reciprocal Mentoring scheme is an innovative mentoring opportunity to address the underrepresentation of ‘BAME’ staff in senior Academic and Professional Services roles.

Following the success of the innovative Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme piloted last year for ‘BAME’ and ExCo Staff, we are excited to relaunch the scheme to include more opportunities for staff to be involved.

For testimonials from last year’s participants, see their Spotlight Story videos here. 


Overall scheme objectives:
  • Creating a network of BAME and Senior staff across the organisation to feed knowledge both upwards and downwards.
  • Providing a safe space for open honest conversations around race at a senior level.


Objectives for Executive Team members/senior leaders:
  • Gaining greater understanding of the lived experiences of BAME staff.
  • Gaining greater understanding operationally of how things work on the ground from the perspective of the BAME mentor.
  • Improving inclusive advocacy.


Objectives for BAME Mentors:
  • Career development advice and potentially progression.
  • An open and constructive space to communicate changes they think should be made at senior level.
  • A sense of having an avenue of senior sponsorship within the organisation.
  • Greater understanding of how decisions are made and implemented at Executive Team/senior leadership levels.
  • Greater understanding of organisational politics at City.


Benefits of the Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme:

This reciprocal mentoring scheme provides a unique platform for ‘BAME’ academic and professional services staff to strengthen their career goals, professional skills and achieve their full potential through the cultivation of cross-departmental and senior-led relationships. The scheme also creates an open and confidential dialogue on racial inequalities in HE and enables White members of staff to enhance their understanding of the potential cultural barriers faced by City’s ‘BAME’ staff. Reciprocal Mentoring is a dynamic way of facilitating such development.


Reciprocal mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship where each participant learns from each other and improves their professional performance. They hold each other accountable and give each other encouragement and feedback on their goals. Participants work on goals and encourage each other to grow personally and professionally in an integrated process. The mutuality of reciprocal mentoring breaks down barriers and prejudices, allowing for mentoring relationships to dispel hierarchical and racial biases.


City’s reciprocal mentoring scheme covers 3 key competencies:

  1. Goal setting: deciding what each other wants to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the results both participants aim for.
  2. Learning & sharing experiences: creating a non-judgemental safe space to share experiences, exchange information, and explore professional challenges.
  3. Bringing your authentic self to work: encouraging the realisation of one’s potential, and providing an opportunity for self-reflection, developing insight and understanding to explore their own thinking around various challenges and opportunities.


Testimonial from Dr. Jessica Jones Nielson, AVP EDI – Race Equality, Senior Academic and RECSAT (Race Equality Charter Self Assessment Team) Co-Chair on the success of Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme Experience for her:

“When I started my mentoring journey with Professor Debra Salmon, I thought all I needed was guidance and someone to give me a fresh perspective on how to handle workplace situations. However, to my pleasant surprise, my mentoring experience became so much more than that. In addition to understanding more about the political landscape and navigating through expected and unexpected obstacles, I also had an impact on Professor Salmon. Together we learned about one another, about our experiences and how those experiences tested at us in different ways. This learning led to a deep appreciation for the reciprocal nature of our mentorship relationship. It also galvanised us to be better in our respective roles. I really appreciate the moments we were able to share throughout our mentoring journey and I can truly say that we are better people and leaders as a result.”


More feedback:

‘It felt like we were both challenging each other. I didn’t feel like I had to skirt around the issues felt openness and frankness so a positive experience to date.’  


‘The scheme feels reciprocal, very helpful to speak to someone who is not in your school but is an academic and can talk about challenges openly.’


The scheme has closed for the academic year 20/21 and we thank all those that have joined and participated thusfar since the Scheme’s launch.

Why is there a scheme just for ‘BAME’ staff?

The reciprocal mentoring scheme demonstrates commitment at the highest level to the development of ‘BAME’ staff at City, and our determination to address the underrepresentation of ‘BAME’ staff in senior Academic and Professional Services roles.

Advance HE states that HEIs cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords. In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change.

An important aspect of this scheme is that it offers the opportunity for reciprocal learning, by raising awareness of the experiences of minority ethnic staff amongst senior leaders. It will bring together a community of senior leaders who wish to increase equality and inclusion, with highly talented BAME staff members who can bring a diversity of experience, perspective and knowledge.


What is next for the Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme for 2021/22 and beyond?

The pilot scheme started with grade 8 and above participants from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and White ethnic groups. In 2021, we are evaluating the scheme’s progress, impact, participant experiences through one to one interviews and what’s working versus not working as we had intended. This course correction and participant check-in is a key part of ensuring the goals and objectives of the scheme are successfully being met and course corrections can be made year on year to ensure a positive and value-adding experience for all involved. Ensuring that ‘BAME’ staff are not carrying the labour of educating White staff involved in the scheme is another key aspect we are evaluating.

Between March 2021 and December 2021, we are exploring how we can enhance and improve the scheme so that it can be rolled out wider, beyond grade 8s and where discussions around race, racism and the impact of intersectional and race-led discriminatory lived experiences can be shared more intentionally, facilitated through expert-led discussions and encouraged with more focus.

Evaluation is expected to be completed in early 2022 and next steps will be decided and announced in the latter half of 2022 based on the scheme evaluation.