Mon,20 Mar 2023

The Impact of Strategic Leadership on Anti Racism

Pat Carvalho, Principal and Chair of Birmingham Metropolitan College

Building on themes from the BLG Annual Conference in 2022, Challenging the Black Paradox, the Principal and the Chair of Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet), Pat Carvalho, will be leading a roundtable session at the BLG’s 2023 conference on 21 March, exploring the impact of strategic leadership on anti-racism. Here, Pat gives an overview of her session.

Birmingham is officially one of the youngest and most diverse cities in the UK. For our college and the community we are a part of, the elimination of racism is an important and urgent challenge.

For our part, BMet is trying a range of things in line with the Black Leadership Group’s 10-Point Plan to develop its anti-racist approach, because we recognise that our journey is not a straight path. The constant challenge is to retain the urgency and focus to do the right thing by all learners and staff, particularly when things go wrong which have the potential to reinforce the optics of ‘no change’.  

During our roundtable session, we will share and explore how as chairs and senior leaders we can positively challenge the Black Paradox to make sustainable change for all our learners and staff.

We want to share what we are trying to do at BMet at the moment to get underneath where we think we are as a college, and at conference I will talk about our institution’s journey this past 12 months. In 2022, through the anti-racism lens, we began to challenge ourselves on all aspects of what we were doing. This was a process that had to involve everyone, including learners, the teaching faculty and other colleagues.

Our starting point was to look at existing mechanisms, our networks and ambassadors. We needed to engage everyone at BMet, and bring the leadership team and managers on board.

Managers play an important role here. If you can’t work with your line managers on this sensitive issue, you will miss the very thing that holds it all together. At BMET, we have focused on embedding the characteristics of high-performing teams aligned to the SALT framework.

And you do need the evidence. It’s not hard to get, and your data will tell you how well you are doing. What is more challenging is providing people with safe places. If you don’t give people that safety to be honest and open about their experiences, you won’t get to the problem or build solutions from a shared understanding.

The range of activities at BMet is multi-faceted but ultimately it’s down to knowing who the individual is and understanding where they are coming from, rather than relying on a perception or stereotype. You can only motivate people when you know who they are and their background. This is how you drive things forward in a more cohesive way.

At the conference, we will share plans for the next steps on our journey, including the embedding of our inclusive leadership strategy, extension of our mentoring project, pilot student ambassador roles, targeted anti-racist CPD and our use of data to monitor impact and create recommendations.

I hope you can join us on 21 March – book your tickets here: