Leeds City Council Case Study: Ethnic Minority Development Centres


Client Profile

Industry Sector: Local Government

Number of employees: 850

Location: Leeds, UK


A key challenge within Leeds City Council was to address the under-representation of black and ethnic minority candidates within top ranking managerial positions.

Several candidates existed within lower grades who showed potential to rise to the challenge of a promotion with the proper support and training. It was recognised that ethnic minority candidates within the organisation would benefit from a structured programme of development which would help them to realise their potential to take on these new and challenging roles.

Leeds City Council needed a complete solution – a development centre (DC)  complete with assessments which would effectively determine the development needs of current ethnic minority employees; as well as development plans which would ensure that within 2 years, candidates were prepared for Senior Management roles.

In addition, it became clear that the HR team at Leeds would benefit from learning the skills and techniques to manage employee development in-house. Since the team at Leeds had not previously run formal Development Centres or managed the personal development plans which follow them; in order to facilitate the ongoing development of its staff in this way, HR professionals within the organisation would require best practice training.


Following an Invitation to Tender process, a&dc were selected to work with Leeds to design and facilitate the first set of Development Centres, as well as to deliver the training which would allow HR Professionals at Leeds to continue to run DC’s independently.

“What stood out about the response received from a&dc was the comprehensive set of ‘menu options’ included.  We were able to agree on an approach which fell within our budget and deadlines.” Says David Almond, Head of Human Resources

10 key competencies were identified that the next generation of Senior Managers would need to demonstrate in order to succeed in their roles. Working with the team at Leeds, a&dc designed a Development Centre which would assess to what degree these competencies were currently demonstrated by each of the participants, with a view to developing personal development plans to enhance skills and competencies. The plans would address any areas of weakness while reinforcing individual strengths.

The first Development Centres ran in November 2006, and included 4 work simulation exercises from the AC-EXS range. The Exercises were all set in a fictitious public sector organisation called the Wellbeing Agency. These included a variety of working situations and exercise types which assessed the identified competencies accurately and objectively. The suite of Exercises made up a ‘Day in the Life of’ a Senior Manager in the Public Sector.

Prior to the Development Centre, 30 Senior Managers at Leeds CC attended formal training in Assessor Skills which lasted 2 days. They then actively participated in the Development Centres as observers, putting these newly acquired skills into practice.

David comments; “The project team from a&dc made sure that we were involved throughout the process so that we would learn to apply the skills we had learnt to the next set of development centres we ran in-house.”

The Assessor Skills Course which we attended was very insightful. The formal qualification we were given at the end of the 2 days allows us to run our own Assessment or Development Centres, which will save us money in the long term – one of our key objectives from the project.”

Having completed the ‘Day in the Life’ Exercises, One-to-One feedback was given to each Participant. This played a crucial role in ensuring that individuals recognised and understood areas of personal development. Each Participant then created a Personal Development Plan with their Line Manager. Targets and specific objectives were set which would need to be completed before promotions would be considered.

A mentoring programme was designed which supported each of the Participants in achieving their specific development targets. This ensured that the most crucial element of the Development Centre, the individual development which follows, would be seen through to successful conclusion and overall objectives would be achieved.


Following the initial round of Development Centres, the team at Leeds CC successfully ran a further set in November 2007.

What the client says

“The results one year on are extremely positive. Although the ultimate measure of success, that of promotion to Senior Management, cannot be assessed until late in 2008, we can already see that individuals who attended the Development Centres have made real progress in terms of developing the 10 key competencies identified at the outset.” David Almond, Head of Human Resources, Leeds City Council