MD2427 Our Time - Supporting Future Leaders: Cohort 2 and research

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
04 February 2019
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

This decision seeks approval to run a second cohort of the Our Time Programme (the “Programme”), targeted at women facing multiple barriers to progression in the workplace.

Our Time - Supporting Future Leaders, a sponsorship programme, was established in the summer of 2018. Through the year long programme, participants demonstrating significant potential are paired with senior champions from across the GLA Group. The champion uses her or his experience and leverage, allowing their participant access to the networks, contacts and opportunities they need to further their career. Tools, guidance and learning materials have been developed for the Programme and will be published to help other organisations deliver the programme. The first cohort of 32 pairs across the GLA Group commenced in September 2018.

The GLA Group as a whole is showing that women are underrepresented at senior levels, although this varies between individual GLA Group bodies. The lack of women in senior roles creates a gender pay gap, as shown in Appendix 1. It was always the intention to hold a second cohort to help tackle this, and a new delivery partner will be procured to run the Programme.


That the Mayor approves:

Expenditure of up to £115,000 to pay a delivery partner to establish and run a second Our Time cohort (taking total approved expenditure on Our Time to £388,000).

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Initiatives are in place across the GLA Group to make recruitment and development practice open, transparent and inclusive. They also encourage and seek to ensure equality of opportunity in career progression. However, even with these initiatives in place, women across the Group are underrepresented at a senior level.  This was reflected in the 2016 gender pay gap data for the Group. It was recognised across the Group that further, proactive, action was needed to ensure that the workforce that reflects London’s diversity at all levels. 


The Our Time Supporting - Future Leaders Programme (the “Programme”) was established in 2018 (MD2232) as part of the Mayor’s yearlong #BehindEveryGreatCity gender equality campaign to help women, particularly those facing multiple barriers, to progress in their careers and into positions of senior leadership. In this Programme; participants demonstrating significant potential are paired with senior champions.  The champion goes beyond mentoring and uses her or his experience, influence and leverage.  They help their participant to access the networks, contacts and opportunities they need to further their career.  This is in place of relying on informal networks or informal processes which can be open to bias, both conscious and unconscious. It is a formal, structured HR-approved activity, focused on advancement, and it helps to create the necessary pipeline of well-prepared, confident and ambitious people which is essential to achieving parity in the workplace.


It was developed by the GLA Group with Deloitte contracted to design, develop and deliver content.  Deloitte was procured via a competitive procedure managed by TfL Procurement. The work to date comprises development of a toolkit and guidance to run the Programme and running the first GLA Group cohort.  This has resulted in:


  • Toolkit – A toolkit, setting out the design and materials to run the 12-month Programme has been built for publication to encourage and facilitate other organisations to implement.  The first 6 months are supported by a series of events.  Materials for the delivery of these events are included.  The participants and champions continue to meet regularly for the following six months.  The first version of the toolkit has been built and will shortly be published.  The materials have been reviewed and tested by six early adopter organisations from across public and private sectors to ensure that it is clear and comprehensive. They will be setting up the scheme. An engagement plan is being developed to support the promotion of the toolkit to ensure take up by organisations across London.


  • The GLA Group cohort - 104 women from across all seven organisations applied for 25 places on the first GLA cohort.  The number of available places was extended to 32.  These participants were paired with champions from across the Group.  An activation event took place in September 2018 and since then pairs have been meeting at least monthly and the following supporting events have taken place or are planned:


  • September 2018 – Event 1 - Activation event (participants and champions)
  • December 2018 – Event 2 - Unlocking Your Barriers (participants)
  • January 2019 – Event 2 - Advocacy Session (champions) 
  • April 2019 – Event 3 - Milestone event (participants and champions)


An evaluation of the Programme will be carried out at the end of the six-month formal supported Programme in April 2019.  Feedback to date from the participants and champions has been very positive.


Cohort 2


The Programme should not be considered as a one-off investment; the gender pay gap data has improved from 2016 to 2017 (data set out in Appendix 1) but is still present for most GLA Group organisations in part due to the lack of representation of women in senior roles.  Ongoing work is needed to ensure that the talent pipeline is maintained and strengthened and that women are supported in their working environments.  It is therefore proposed to run a second cohort to take part in the Programme to support a further group of women. The selection process for each organisation will be refreshed to ensure that this is targeted at women who face multiple barriers.


It is proposed that the delivery model for the Programme is retained, consisting of:

  • A high-quality delivery partner commissioned to run the second cohort to take part in the Programme;
  • GLA Group representatives to:
    • Oversee development of the Programme;
    • Manage the implementation (including the expression of interest process) within their organisation; 
    • Provide experienced facilitation skills alongside consultancy leads to expand the capacity for events; and
  • A GLA project manager managing the contract with the new delivery partner and guiding the delivery across the GLA Group.


To start the next group in April/May 2019, approval is needed now, to allow time for procurement for a supplier to deliver the next cohort. The procurement will be carried out with the support of Transport for London Procurement


Delivery of Cohort 2 - Proposed Budget - Estimated costs for a high-quality delivery partner include:








Managing and running the recruitment, selection and matching process for a cohort of 100 (participants and champions)





Completion of the first cohort set of meetings including all the logistics (8 days) and facilitators (15 days)
(3 facilitators for Events 1 and 3, two facilitators for each of the two Event 2)









Administration costs

Such as audio visual, catering, stationery, printing, venue costs (if any)














Cohort 2 - Budget assumptions:


  • It is based on a cohort of up to 50 participants (estimated cost per head of £1,968, excluding contingency, development of champions is included within that cost);
  • A recharge per head will be made to each GLA Group organisation for the delivery of the cohort – this will depend on the final numbers on the Programme;
  • An additional Event 2 (for participants) will be run to provide the required additional capacity and flexibility;
  • It is based on a day rate of £1800;
  • All speakers at the events will be free of charge to the GLA; and
  • Tea/coffee and working lunch will be provided at the events and all venues will be within the GLA Group estate (free/minimal charge).
Objectives and expected outcomes

The work described in this decision aims to:

• Increase the number of women in leadership roles across the GLA Group, and more widely across organisations in London;
• Raise the profile of sponsorship as a model that enables women to take on more senior roles, particularly in the public sector and civil society; and
• Ensure the GLA Group leads by example as champion of women in leadership and equality in the workplace.

Cohort 2 will be set up and run across the workforces of GLA Group, London & Partners and London Ambulance Service. The evaluation methodology included in the toolkit will be used to baseline and measure the impact in delivering these objectives.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as public authorities, the Mayor and GLA are subject to a public-sector equality duty and must have ‘due regard’ to the need to (i) eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; (ii) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and (iii) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics under section 149 of the Equality Act are age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage or civil partnership status (all except the last being “relevant” protected characteristics).

Addressing gender equality and inclusion at senior leadership levels across the GLA Group are the drivers behind this Programme, ensuring that the GLA Group workforce reflects the diversity of London. The products developed under this Programme also support the development of organisations across London.

Legal advice has been provided as part of the development of the Programme and toolkit. It will continue to be sought to ensure that there are still legitimate grounds to be taking positive action, that the delivery of the initiative remains within legal boundaries and does not negatively impact on people from other underrepresented groups.


A gender pay gap has been identified across most of the GLA Group organisations. The most recent data is from 2018 and is set out for all the GLA Group organisations in Appendix 1. Action plans, some of which include the Our Time Programme, are in place in each organisation to work towards addressing issues of pay in each organisation.

Intersectionality is the concept that women have multiple layers to their identities (black and female, disabled and female, those with caring responsibilities, etc.) and they can face multiple barriers to securing work and progressing in their careers (through conscious and unconscious bias). This initiative will focus on supporting women with multiple barriers to progress in the workplace and will contribute to addressing the identified issues of pay across the Group.

Pay gap data is just one measure of gender equality. Each organisation would need to understand and articulate the issues that they face, for example analysis of numbers of women at each level of the organisation to participate in a positive action programme such as Cohort 2 of the Programme.

Other considerations

Key risks and issues - Risk registers will be developed for the delivery of the cohort and for the research work to ensure that the risks and issues are identified and managed. However, key risks include:

(a) Legality of the initiatives to ensure they remain positive action and do not become positive discrimination - legal advice has been provided as part of the development of the Programme and toolkit. It will continue to be sought to ensure that there are still legitimate grounds to be taking positive action and that the delivery of the initiative remains within legal boundaries. Each organisation that participates in the Programme must carry out their own assessment to check whether they have grounds to take positive action.

(b) Timescales are tight to secure a suitable consultancy who can deliver the second cohort and allow enough time for the selection process. Advice is being sought on the best route to market to ensure a robust contract is put in place.

(c) We want to ensure that other underrepresented groups that they are included in the development offer. Therefore, we will be commissioning research into the best course of action to improve progression for BAME employees and will develop a programme based on the findings of that research. We will also consider wider underrepresented groups, such as disabled and LGBT+ employees.

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities:

The Mayor is committed to be a proud feminist at City Hall and to making the GLA a model employer. He wants to lead in challenging the underrepresentation of women in senior roles and to encourage London organisations across all the sectors to support employee development opportunities amongst women.

This initiative aims to continue to position the GLA as a leading organisation, influencing the public discourse on women at work, and raising the GLA Group’s profile as an innovative and inclusive employer for female talent.

Diversity and Inclusion strategy: The Mayor is focusing on tackling unfair pay, employment gaps and giving workers good work-place rights. The Mayor is working with employers and others to challenge discrimination and ensure employees are treated fairly, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Good Work Standard: The Mayor wants to make London the best place in the world to work and a fairer place to live. The Good Work Standard is being developed to share best practice with employers and it will promote fair pay and the London Living Wage, excellent working conditions and diversity in the workplace. The Programme is included in the Good Work Standard.
Impact assessments and consultations:

The equalities comments at section 3 should be considered to be our equalities impact assessment.

Financial comments

Approval is being sought for expenditure up to £110,400 to fund a second cohort of the Our Time Programme. Our Time is targeted at women facing multiple barriers to progression in the workplace.

Expenditure of up to £110,400 is expected to be spent as per the table under section 1.8 of this MD.

The proposed expenditure of £110,400 will be added to the final 2019-20 budget for the GLA and funded by Revenue Grants unapplied.

Activity table


Cohort delivery

Jan/Feb 2019

Decision making process, budget sign off

Feb 2019

Procurement process for a partner deliver cohort 2

Feb/Mar 2019

Partner appointed for cohort delivery

Mar/Apr 2019


  • run selection process for Cohort 2 participants (managed within each functional body)
  • Champion attraction, inviting new champions to come forward and engaging with the champions who were not matched in the first cohort

Apr/May 2019

Matching process

Jun/Jul 2019

Activation event Cohort 2

Dec 2019/Jan 2020

End of supported programme cohort 2

Jun/Jul 2020

Pairings’ minimum period complete cohort 2

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