From education to employment

The Power of Anti-Racist Leadership

Dennis Francis Excluisve

BLG Lead Trainer Dennis Francis shares his insights. He focuses on the progress of anti-racism led by BLG with organisations in education and business. Here, Dennis gives his perspective on the importance of leadership in FE & Skills to tackling systemic and organisational racism. 


For me, the key question for leaders in tackling racism is how individuals will step up and embrace the concept of creating an anti-racist culture. It takes boldness for people within organisations to be game-changers. Declaring their commitment to being anti-racist and dedicating time and resources to this cause, especially when there are competing priorities. 

Some might ask, “Why do we need to do more? Isn’t this something we already do anyway?” The answer lies in intentionality.  Anti-racism is a call to action, a deliberate approach that creates a clear pathway for actions and expected outcomes.  The goal is to move beyond performative gestures and embed anti-racism into the fabric of the organisation. It is how Leaders take positive steps to build a “movement rather than a moment” in effecting culture change that is sustainable and makes a tangible difference. 

For those of us in Further Education and Skills, this is particularly important. We have that additional responsibility of preparing others, students and apprentices, for the world they will be living and working in. With demographic trends making us an increasingly diverse society, all ethnicities must understand the world they live in today and will be in the future. A courageous leader in FE recognises the increasing diversity and proactively prepares students for a world where they will encounter people from different cultures and ethnicities. This requires questioning the practices of the organisation, looking ahead and anticipating future needs to create an organisation, that understands, values and serves a wide and diverse range of stakeholders especially current and future students, with the ambition to be anti-racist. 

Role Modelling And Self-Awareness an Anti-Racist Leadership

In the context of anti-racism, leadership is about role-modelling the behaviour you expect from others. We are dealing here with a sensitive and potentially uncomfortable topic but effective leaders can manage these conversations by addressing the “why” and acknowledging the discomfort some may feel. This might involve questioning your practices as courageous leadership begins with self-reflection: understanding your current position (the way you think and behave) and the responsibility you hold. 

  • Ask yourself, If I am ‘not racist’, am I anti-racist?
  • Am I actively standing up against racism and being an ally?  
  • Am I role-modelling the behaviours needed to address incidences of racism or policies, customs and practices that perpetuate a culture of racism? 
  • Am I willing to learn, and grow in my understanding and awareness of racism?
  • Am I bold enough to discuss and define anti-racism with others such as the  senior management team? 

By living out these core principles, courageous leaders can inspire and confidently move towards creating  an anti-racist leadership and organisation. By providing meaningful answers to these questions, senior leaders can champion anti-racism. They are the spark that ignites conversations and helps cultivate a safe space for exploration. They are the key to helping to ‘fertilise the imaginations of organisations’ to stride with purpose in the direction of creating an anti-racist organisation. 

Making The Invisible Visible 

The Black Leadership Group works with organisations to bring unconscious bias to light. Our diagnostic tools help them see where they stand on the spectrum of anti-racism. And when we talk to organisations, we remind them that leadership is not limited to a select few.  

The responsibility for creating an Anti-Racist culture should be the endeavour of the many not the preserve of the few. Everyone who interacts with others has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in the area of anti-racism. This means calling out inappropriate behaviour, being positive and constructive in your interactions, and ensuring that racism is never tolerated by you or within the organisation. Being anti-racist.  

When data reveals a lack of diversity in recruitment or a curriculum that doesn’t reflect the wider population, it is simply right that we question what could be done to improve this situation.  Courageous leaders seek evidence and then use it to guide their actions and move their organisation in the right direction.  

By Dennis Francis, Lead Trainer, Black Leadership Group 


Our conference on 21st March is an opportunity to explore these questions with leaders who have pioneered anti-racist work and can inspire others to step into this space. Hopefully, it will accelerate and elevate the efforts of others.

Tickets are still available and you register here.

FE News on the go

Welcome to FE News on the Go, the podcast that delivers exclusive articles from the world of further education straight to your ears.

We are experimenting with Artificial Intelligence to make our exclusive articles even more accessible while also automating the process for our team of project managers.

In each episode, our thought leaders and sector influencers will delve into the most pressing issues facing the FE.

Related Articles