The Stepping Up programme is a leadership development programme for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues who work within healthcare (the NHS or an organisation providing NHS care).


It aims to create greater levels of sustainable inclusion within the NHS by addressing the social, organisational and psychological barriers restricting BAME colleagues from progressing.


The programme is designed to bridge the gap between where applicants are and where they need to be, to progress into more senior roles. Successful applicants will be empowered to drive forward the inclusion agenda and develop their skills and abilities in order to grow and progress.


The programme fits with the Academy’s wider body of powerful positive action work to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the health service. The ultimate aim is to develop more inclusive leaders at all levels of the NHS.



“It’s time for a paradigm shift to take place on inclusion; we want to move beyond quantitative responses and empower leaders to make different collective and individual choices in their leadership practice than they have in the past.



“There’s a need for organisations to embrace the difficult conversations we all need to have; to make changes to the conversations we have in the future.”



“Nearly 20% of the 1.3 million people that work in the NHS are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. Without them the NHS wouldn’t be able to function, so it’s really important that diverse talent is nurtured and developed. It’s evident that the NHS recruitment process has been shown to disproportionately favour white applicants.


“There’s a growing body of research which is highlighting concerns about the absence of BAME colleagues in senior NHS roles. The Snowy White Peaks report, published in 2014, looked at the representation of BAME colleagues in the London area, in particular people in senior management roles. It found that:


  • Only 1 in 40 chairs and no CEOs in London were from a BAME background
  • In London, a city where 40% of workforce and patients are BAME, 17 out of 40 trusts had all-white boards
  • There was a significant decrease in BAME board members at both local and national levels
  • There were no BAME executive directors across the Arm’s Length Bodies, including Monitor, the Care Quality Commission, NHS England, and Health Education England


“A further report from the NHS Workforce and Race Equality Standard (WRES), published earlier this year, highlighted that:


  • 75% of acute trusts reported a large number of BAME staff were bullied
  • 41% of BAME colleagues said they were bullied, harassed or abused compared to 18% of white staff in similar roles
  • BAME staff are also less likely to be released to attend non-mandatory external development or training


The Academy is helping to develop senior BAME leaders in healthcare with a number of inclusion programmes and interventions. The Stepping Up programme forms part of this important work.”


Tracie Jolliff
Director of inclusion
NHS Leadership Academy


For individuals:


If you’re a participant, The Stepping Up programme will help you:


  • Prepare and develop for more senior leadership roles within the NHS
  • Challenge the diverse environment you work in to make transformational change
  • Develop the knowledge, experience and skills to help your organisation create an inclusive culture; and to also help you influence change across wider healthcare
  • Empower you to become a role model to help inspire the development and progression of others


If you’re band 5 or 6 (or equivalent) you’ll:


  • Increase your self-awareness and the leadership strengths your diversity brings
  • Be introduced to a range of management principles
  • Develop your communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills
  • Learn about effective development strategies
  • Better understand organisational context so that you can shape and influence your career progression
  • Increase your motivation to thrive in your chosen role and/or progress further in your career


If you’re band 7 (or equivalent) you’ll:


  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of leadership and management
  • Learn about the present state of the NHS and implications for managing transformational change
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of senior leadership requirements and the opportunity to craft your own authentic leadership style and approach
  • Gain an understanding of the factors that block and enable BAME progression and development
  • Understand the personal and organisational strategy that will be applied to your career development, and your ability to influence the healthcare system you work in to create greater equality
  • Understand how to use ‘yourself’ as a powerful instrument for change
  • Develop embodied leadership which looks at how people project themselves in ways that enable them to achieve their aspirations
  • Increase your motivation to progress further in your career


If you’re an organisation with a colleague who’s participating in the programme you’ll:


  • Positively impact on patient care by helping staff reach their full potential
  • Be representing the population you serve to ensure the best patient care is being delivered at the front line
  • Unlock previously untapped creativity and productivity
  • Work at a faster pace towards the equality agenda
  • Provide the best environment in which BAME staff can thrive
  • Reduce attrition – there’s a national shortage of nurses, doctors and other medical professionals and a large proportion of these colleagues come from BAME backgrounds
  • Inspire other BAME colleagues to progress into more senior roles

Who is the programme for?