How Mentoring Can Provide That ‘Executive Edge’

Oct 31, 2023

The board plays a key role in the senior decision-making structure for NHS England, ensuring that the strategy, accountability and culture of their organisation drives high quality services for patients. Research1 from within and outside of the sector has shown that board diversity leads to better decision-making, and this has been the driver behind various initiatives to diversify boards so that they more accurately reflect the communities they serve and the staff they employ. While improvements have been made in non-executive representation on boards, executive board member diversity still lags behind in terms of representation. Recent WRES data2 shows that in London where 50% of the workforce has a Black or ethnic minority background, only 16% of executive board members are BAME.

The Careers Company in partnership with The Seacole Group are working towards making a
difference to these numbers. Recognising that diverse leadership talent often lack access to mentorship and networks3 , we have launched a structured mentoring programme for NHS leaders in London matching potential executive board members with a mentor who has extensive NHS board experience. The programme known as “Executive Edge” was launched in October 2023 with 14 mentor-mentee pairings starting their journey. Over the course of the next 6 months mentees will benefit not only from structured one-to-one time with an experienced NED but will also be supported by a series of input sessions, developmental workshops, guest speakers and panels and the opportunity to build their peer network across NHS London. Our mentors are just as enthused about the role they can play in building up the next generation of leaders in the NHS, summarised by one mentor who said they were “really excited to be part of this potential ‘change-making’ initiative and contributing to my mentee’s leadership journey”.

For more information about the Executive Edge programme or other career development programmes offered by The Careers Company please contact [email protected].

(1) McKinsey and Co. (2018)
(2) NHS WRES metrics -  
(3) Woolnough, H. M., Davidson, M. J., & Fielden, S. L. (2006). The experiences of mentors on a career development and mentoring programme for female mental health nurses in the UK National Health Service. Health Services Management Research, 19(3), 186-196.

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