Exploring the development needs of senior black and minority ethnic workers in social services

Funded by the Social Services Inspectorate, 1998 – 2000 

Contact Jabeer Butt

What were the aims of the project?

Reports by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Local Government Management Board (LGMB) and Office for Public Management (OPM) highlighted low representation of black and minority ethnic staff in senior management positions, and identified barriers to their career progression. Additionally, an event organised by the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), Race Equality Unit (REU), CRE and LGMB brought senior black managers together to discuss and implement strategies to enhance the career development of black managers.

This collaborative project from the Race Equality Foundation and the Office for Public Management  aimed to produce a development programme for senior black and minority ethnic managers. The programme was intended to target black managers within Social Services departments, and run in parallel with existing programmes for management development.

How were these aims fulfilled?

We gathered information on:

  • the development needs of senior black managers
  • how these could be best met by a development programme.


We conducted a questionnaire with black and minority ethnic senior managers in UK Social Services departments. Based on the Local Government Management Board survey (1998), the questionnaire examined issues including:

  • personal details, including current employment status and education history prior to entering local government
  • duration of local government service
  • experience of/opportunities for career development
  • suggestions for a development programme aimed at black and minority ethnic managers.

Of 99 questionnaires sent out 66 were returned, a response rate of 70 per cent.

Focus groups

We carried out six focus group sessions in the North West of England, West Midlands, East Midlands, East London, South London and West London to:

  • explore issues from the questionnaire
  • contribute content for the development programme.

Desk research

The findings from the questionnaire and focus groups were backed up by desk research.

What we produced

  • A report to the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI)
  • A Social Care Futures Leadership programme for senior black and minority ethnic managers run by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA)