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OU programme bids to boost a new generation of black leaders in business

A PILOT programme is under way for a new initiative designed to empower the next generation of black leaders in business and the community.

The Black Leadership and Empowerment Programme, designed by The Open University Business School in Milton Keynes, aims to equip participants with the skills needed to thrive in leadership roles.

It has been launched in response to growing focus on racial equity in business, highlighted by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. The pilot already has the backing of organisations including The Prince’s Trust, AutoTrader, Manchester Airport Group and Inclusive Companies.

The programme is being led by Dr Fidèle Mutwarasibo, a lecturer in work-based learning at the OU and director of its Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. He said: “BLEP emerged from discussions between community partners concerned with racial inequity and the OU. The programme will explore how we can be more effective in calling for change and fighting for change.”

Advancing Black Leadership is a Badged Open Course co-authored by Dr Mutwarasibo and two former OU colleagues Professor Owain Smolovic Jones and Dr Tom Morton, which launched in March.

Introducing Black Leadership, another BOC co-authored by Fidele and Owain, was launched in November 2023. There is also a 30-credit module, which aims to help consolidate learning and enhance study skills.

Black employees currently hold just 1.5% of top management roles in the UK private sector, according to the The Race at Work Black Voices Report of  2020. The Green Park Business Leaders Index of 2021 showed that there were no black executives working at the leadership level of the UK’s top 100 companies.

A two-year BLEP pilot will be based initially at a learning hub in Manchester. The first BLEP learning hub took place at AutoTrader in Manchester where footballing pioneer Tony Whelan, Manchester United academy advisor and an OU Humanities graduate, was the guest speaker.

Programme participants will be able to access 150 hours of free learning on the OU’s OpenLearn platform including the two bespoke leadership courses.

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