26th Global

Mentoring, Coaching and Supervision Conference

1-3 June 2020

26th Global

Mentoring, Coaching and Supervision Conference

1-3 June 2020


Rita Symons & Charmaine Kwame

Reciprocal mentoring - is it the key to unlock a truly inclusive organisation?

Theme: Diversity & Inclusion for Organisations

Area: Mentoring

Style: Mainly Experiential

Type: Workshop

Session on 1 June 2020 14:30 UTC - View on timetable


The NHS is a much loved institution in the UK, based on the premise of free care available to all based on need. 1.5 million people work in the NHS. Sadly, we know that for under-represented groups they are still subject to institutional prejudice and a system that does not truly value the power of difference. This session shares learning from an ambitious large scale programme to introduce reciprocal or reverse mentoring into all Boards of NHS organisations. This is about systemic change and about giving power to people who have experienced discrimination to support them to be change agents. We have worked collaboratively to develop creative training material, using experiential learning with tools like Form Theatre.

This session will share how the programme was implemented, lessons learnt, and allow individual participants to actively engage in the scenarios used through the forum theatre. This will give them first hand experience of the development programme.


Rita Symons spent 25 years in the NHS, including as a Chief Executive Officer. She is now a qualified coach, accredited with EMCC at Senior Practitioner level. She runs her own practice, Enhance Coaching and Consultancy Ltd, working mainly with the NHS and charities, offering 1:1 coaching, team development, leadership programme development, facilitation and improvement support. She is actively involved in EMCC and is currently the President of EMCC UK. Rita has championed diversity and inclusion throughout her career and is involved in working with the NHS Leadership Academy to lead the development of the Reciprocal Mentoring for Inclusion Programme. Rita has two grown up daughters and has filled the empty nest with a retired greyhound.

Charmaine Kwame is the National Lead for Coaching & Mentoring at the National Health Service (NHS) England & Improvement Leadership Academy.  She has been an executive coach for 13 years and has over twenty years of industry knowledge, working within both the private and public sectors including investment banking, financial regulation, central government, and Healthcare. Her work has included programme managing large scale change programmes at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), enabling high quality leadership development practice within healthcare through developing the practice of coaching and mentoring within the NHS and she is the recent award winner of the Coaching at Work publication ‘internal Coaching and Mentoring champion of the year’.

She has been instrumental in bringing ground breaking initiatives into the NHS and innovating to apply coaching and mentoring to some of the most challenging issues faced by the NHS including equality and diversity, return to practice and ethical decision making through the co-creation and delivery of programmes with NHS Leadership Academy faculty and well respected external subject matter experts.  This work includes ‘The Reciprocal Mentoring for inclusion Programme’ for NHS Boards and leaders from underrepresented groups to enable powerful alliances for systemic change,  ‘The Return to work Mentoring Programme’ (with Nicki Seignot) for leaders transitioning back into roles after extended periods of leave, ‘The Coaching for Inclusion Programme’ (with Dr Eden Charles) to enable internal coaches to work more powerfully with difference in the inclusion space, and ‘The Ethical Decision Making Coaching Programme’ (with Professor David Clutterbuck and Professor Celia Moore) focusing on how coaches can support leaders facing ethical dilemmas within their practice. Across NHS England, Charmaine has helped to create and expand internal coaching and mentoring registers, enabling colleagues to access support from executive coaches and peers who are already familiar with the context and challenges of a highly complex and changeable health and social care system.  She’s helped to commission valuable research across the UK into coaching and mentoring within health enabling the NHS Leadership Academy to identify options for a national way forward for leadership development. Charmaine is a passionate advocate of coaching and mentoring to enable underrepresented groups within organisations and wider communities, to break through systemic barriers which prevent them from progressing into those ‘hard to reach’ senior executive roles and releasing their full potential. She see’s herself as a partner and enabler of learning in others and is always developing her own thinking and practice through her work with the talented programme participants and faculty she has the privilege of working alongside. Most recently she has been working to further develop the NHS Leadership Academy coaching and mentoring offer in light of the challenges the NHS has faced from Covid-19 and the disproportionate negative impact on Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Members of our communities and NHS workforce.  She was temporarily redeployed for a short period to work at the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London to support the response to Covid-19 and used the opportunity to rethink her approach and understanding to leadership development.