UK Govt to Assign Junior Ethnic Minority Staff to ‘Reverse Mentor’ Senior White Staff on ‘Bias’

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Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is establishing a so-called ‘reversing mentoring’ scheme in which ethnic minority junior staff will be assigned to train white senior staff on “bias.”

According to the FCO website, the new programme “will help leaders understand how biases around race, gender, class, and educational background” can result in a failure to recognise what is described as “different types of talent,” and that “these biases can keep ethnic minority staff stuck in… junior grades in the Foreign Office.”

“In the twenty-first century it is essential that our diplomats look more like our country as a whole,” remarked Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the unpopular Remain-supporting former Health Secretary who took over at the FCO after Brexit-backing Boris Johnson resigned to protest Theresa May’s proposed deal with the EU.

He did not elaborate on why it was “essential” that FCO staff match the ethnic make-up of the general population, simply asserting that “two of Britain’s greatest assets are our diversity and deep inter-country ties.”

Ethnic minority staff do, in fact, already account for 13.4 per cent of the FCO workforce, which matches ethnic minorities’ official share of the general population fairly closely — but Hunt insists that “Despite the improvements we’ve made on improving overall diversity, there remains a stubborn problem in improving racial diversity at the Foreign Office at senior grades, particularly amongst black staff.”

“Our reverse mentoring scheme will be a practical way for us to challenge stereotypes and improve diversity,” he added.

“It will help us use the fantastic people the FCO employs to forge stronger connections and boost our prosperity.”

The FCO introduced the scheme as a way of celebrating the end of Black History Month, taking the opportunity to promote its new Black skin, Whitehall: Race and the Foreign Office, 1945 to 2018 report as well.

Whitehall is a famous street in Westminster, London, home to many important government buildings, and is often used as shorthand for Her Majesty’s Civil Service and the British state apparatus more generally.

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