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OU launches its Black Leadership and Empowerment Programme

The Open University (OU) has launched a new initiative designed to empower the next generation of Black leaders in business and the community.

The Black Leadership and Empowerment Programme (BLEP) is a product of the OU Business School and will equip participants with the skills needed to thrive in leadership roles.

The programme is being led by Dr Fidèle Mutwarasibo, a Lecturer in Work-Based Learning at the OU, in response to the ongoing call for racial equity, amplified by the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

It has already received backing from the likes of The Prince’s Trust, AutoTrader, Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and Inclusive Companies with more expected to support the initiative.

A two-year pilot will see an initial learning hub based in Manchester, followed by others around the country.

The first BLEP learning hub took place at AutoTrader in Manchester yesterday (Thursday 16 May) 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 two bespoke leadership courses developed exclusively for BLEP.

‘Advancing Black Leadership’ is a badged open course (BOC), co-authored by Fidèle and two former OU colleagues in Prof 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.

Fidèle, who is also Director of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL) at the OU, 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.

“Black employees hold just 1.5% of top management roles in the UK private sector (according to ‘The Race at Work Black Voices Report’, 2020), while the number of Black executives working at the leadership level of the UK’s top 100 companies fell to zero in 2021 (according to ‘Green Park Business Leaders Index’, 2021).

“The programme aligns with the OU’s social mission and builds on CVSL’s research on the leadership of racialised minority voluntary sector organisations.”

Please contact Fidele for further details on how to support or join the programme.

The Black Leadership and Empowerment Programme (BLEP) featured in the latest issue of Global Focus, the EFMD Business Magazine that provides in-depth analysis and updates on international management development and insight from leading experts. Author Sarah Hardcastle explores the background, rationale, aims and future of the programme and provides a summary of its three core learning components. Download article: Global Focus.

This article was originally published on OU news, read the original article.