Image of Russel Hobby
Russell Hobby
CEO at Teach First

Our ongoing work to improve diversity and inclusion

When we started new work to improve diversity and inclusion following the killing of George Floyd, we said we'd share regular news of practical steps, rather than a brief flurry of eye-catching announcements.

We are having candid and powerful conversations about race within our organisation and community, and a common theme is the need for honest and forthright communication about our efforts to address systemic racism.

We’ve been busy in June. We’re advertising new roles to create a centre of responsibility for diversity and inclusion on our programmes at Teach First. The three roles we’ve created are Head of Programme Diversity & Inclusion, Programme Diversity & Inclusion Manager and Programme Welfare & Access Manager. They’ll all be open for applications until 15 July – if you or someone you know might be suitable, you can download job descriptions and apply via our vacancies page. These roles will play an important part in promoting and protecting diversity in our cohort of trainee teachers.

We’ve also made a change to our shortlisting requirements for employee appointments. For a little over a year now, inspired by ideas like the “Rooney Rule” and the “Mansfield Rule”, we have required that 30% of all candidates invited to final interviews for senior and ambassador trustee roles must come from underrepresented groups for that role level. Our internal roles are each assigned a grade from one to six (six being the most senior). We put the new shortlisting requirement in place for appointments at grades four, five and six, as well as for ambassador trustees. Whenever we’ve failed to achieve the right shortlist, we’ve gone back out to market.

We’ll continue to interrogate our data to ensure that we’re improving things for every underrepresented group

We’ve started to see positive results. In the last year, we increased the number of trustees from BAME backgrounds to 36%, which includes 29% Black trustees. We more than doubled the number of colleagues in senior roles who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) – going from 4.7% to 11%. But our work is far from complete: those in senior roles are not as diverse as the charity as a whole (we have a 15% BAME workforce across the whole charity), grade six is not ethnically diverse at all, and we have more work to do to improve things for Black colleagues specifically. We understand how important it is not to treat “BAME” as a monolithic category – we’ll continue to interrogate our data closely to ensure that we’re improving things for every underrepresented group.

We’re, therefore, extending and tightening our shortlisting rules. From the start of July, at least 50% of candidates at the final interview stage for roles at grade five and above must come from underrepresented groups. And we’re aiming for at least 80% of our shortlists for roles at grades three and four to contain, at minimum, a quarter of candidates from underrepresented groups.

Significantly, grades three and four include many of our external delivery roles – people who work directly with schools and trainees. Initially, the rules for these levels will only be applied to externally advertised roles. We will explore extending this target after we’ve had time to monitor its effectiveness. 

Diversity in recruitment is only one step; creating the conditions in which everyone can thrive and progress, regardless of background, is equally important. We look forward to updating you on further progress in this domain next month. Among other steps, we are voluntarily publishing our ethnicity pay gap, in a similar fashion to our gender pay gap.

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