In September 2020, our Race Equality Taskforce launched a pilot of its reverse mentoring scheme. The Scheme aims to address the barriers to race equality at the Bar, by providing insight into people’s experiences of racism and working to foster anti-racism in the profession. To achieve its aims, the Scheme pairs Bar students, pupil barristers and junior barristers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds as mentors, with senior barristers from White backgrounds as mentees.
We understand that the Scheme, which is designed to encourage new and innovative ways to address the barriers to race equality at the Bar, is the profession’s first experience of reverse mentoring. When compared to traditional mentoring schemes, reverse mentoring is more likely to ensure mutual benefit to both the mentor and the mentee, and to pair people who might otherwise not come together. The Scheme reflects our belief that, to achieve race equality in our profession, the onus of change needs to be on the White majority and senior ranks of the profession.
The first pairing of the scheme is underway: Elisha Lindsay, a Black female Bar student and race equality activist is mentoring Paul Stanley QC, a White ally and member of the Taskforce. Our Director General, Mark Neale, has also volunteered to become a mentee.
Speaking about her involvement as the Scheme’s first mentor, Elisha said “'Initiating a programme that brings together the concept of diversity in a tangible and practical way is something I never thought would be achievable. Seeing how receptive members of the Bar are to hearing and learning about anti-racist practices and achieving true diversity within the Bar gives me hope for a more inclusive environment.”
As the Scheme’s first mentee, Paul said “It is a privilege to be able to be involved in this ground-breaking initiative. Being mentored by Elisha gives me a golden opportunity to learn from her experience and insight, and to challenge my own preconceptions and prejudices. I know it will make me a better antiracist ally, and help me to change myself and the profession for the better.”
We recognise that the Scheme will involve difficult and potentially uncomfortable conversations between participants. The pilot of the Scheme is being monitored by the Taskforce and our Equality and Access to Justice Team, and measures are in place to monitor and safeguard the wellbeing of its participants, particularly mentors.
To apply to take part in the Scheme, please submit an application form, which can be accessed here, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The form can be provided in alternative formats. Full Terms of Reference for the Scheme can be accessed online.
 A White person with a commitment to non-complacency, who takes proactive steps to confront and dismantle racism and race inequality.