Stepping Up programme

Stepping Up programme

What Stepping Up is

Stepping Up applications

Application deadline extended to: Friday, 5 March 2021

Stepping Up is a ground breaking and award winning diversity leadership programme.

It has won awards for excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, mentoring and sets an exemplar for a regional talent pipeline.

Stepping Up is designed for people from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic communities, women and disabled people who live and work in Bristol and the wider region.

Visit Stepping Up Bristol for our new brochure. 

How it works for participants

When you’re on the programme you’ll stay in your current job. Stepping Up is not a secondment or job. You’ll get a learning contract signed by your employer and Bristol City Council which provides complete clarity regarding roles and expectations.

Your employer will have needed to pledge support for you to attend and pay a fee of £2,500 for the development experience.

Sponsorship is being sought from stakeholders to support a bursary grant facility for participants who are self-employed, not employed or working for not for profit.

The Stepping Up leadership development experience portfolio includes:

  • 6 half-day online learning sets
  • 6 leadership modules; Programme Introduction, Leadership, Change, Global Trends, Immersion and Futures, which will be face to face or online dependent on restrictions (12 days)
  • 12 to 16 hours of mentoring, 1 hour per month (2 days)
  • stretch assignment (5 days)
  • Virtual Learning Platform self-study: 6 modules (about 4 hours per module)

Total number of days: 25.

The Stepping Up programme mixes personal learning and mentoring with action learning to make a difference to participants’ role and work.

How to apply

You’ll need to:

  • be from a Black, Asian and Minority ethnic community, a women or a disabled person
  • have experience of leading teams and ideally be working at team leader, middle management or have the potential to do so
  • have experience of community leadership in a voluntary capacity, self-employed or looking for employment
  • have the potential to “step up” to a senior level post within the next few years and have 5 years left before retirement

It’s difficult to specify clearer criteria as sponsoring employers may wish to set their own criteria.

Bristol City Council employees don’t need to ask their line manager for approval.

Applicants from outside Bristol City Council will be expected to have either been nominated by their employer or the applicant has told their employer of their intention to apply.

Participant qualifications

Ideally, we’re looking for applicants educated to “A” level standard and ideally hold a degree or professional qualifications relevant to their sector or role.

Person specification

You will be required to submit your CV (no more than 3 pages) and a supporting statement (no more than 300 words). Your CV and supporting statement should give examples against each of the person specification criteria:

  • what motivates you to apply
  • leadership experience at team level, in work or in a voluntary capacity
  • motivation
  • empathy
  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • negotiation and influence

The application process will open on Friday 30 January 2021, and close on Friday 5 March 2021.

Apply online 

To apply online on visit: Bristol City Council jobs site, and search for: Stepping UP Leadership Programme.


Between December 2020 and February 2021 we'll be holding five briefing events, via Zoom, for potential candidates and employers to talk about the content of the programme.

If you would like to attend any of these events, book using EventBrite.

Make sure you book at least two days before the event so we can send you the Zoom link.

The event will last no longer than an hour and a half


  • Thursday, 4 February, 5pm, book by 2 February
  • Tuesday, 9 February, 10am to 11.30am, book by 7 February 
  • Monday, 22 February, 5pm to 6.30pm, book by 20 February 

How Stepping Up is funded

The cost for attending Stepping Up is £2,500.

Participants will be funded by their employer, who must agree to fund the £2,500 per employee fee to attend the programme before applying.

Bristol City Council applicants will be funded from the Council’s Corporate Fund.

Sponsorship is being sought from stakeholders to support a bursary grant facility for participants who are self-employed, not employed or working for not for profit.

Download the Stepping Up bursary application form (pdf, 112KB) (opens new window) and send with your application to

Management certificate

An MBA is offered through the apprenticeship levy scheme and potentially other management qualifications may be available.

Participants from other employers may also be able to access the above qualifications, but this will need to be explored on a case by case basis.

The role of line manager

Line managers should:

  • hold regular conversations with their line managers
  • encourage participants to keep a learning journal to support reflective study and record progress of career goals 
  • ensure development and career goals become part of the participants performance and development process


There will be a graduation ceremony at the end of the Stepping Up Programme.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor will preside over the Graduation Ceremony and present each participant with their Stepping Up certificate.

After the programme

What happens after the programme finishes:

  • Career movement. Participants are encouraged to develop their self-confidence and strive to achieve career movement as a result of the leadership programme. It’s not the intention that participants will be allocated a new job in their organisation on completion of the programme. 
  • Each employer will have their own policy regarding fast tracking or positive action in respect of Stepping Up participants.
  • Bristol City Council's participants will be encouraged to utilise their Stepping Up career passport as evidence of wider development to access internal opportunities and talent process.
  • A key outcome from Stepping Up is the creation of a diverse talent pool and civic leaders who can contribute to inclusive growth within the region and such roles as Magistrates, Trustee and Non-Executive Directors, and Community leaders.