The promotion and progression of black and minority ethnic academics and teachers in England has been the subject of much debate. Although several theories have been put forward, racial equality has stood out as a major contributing factor. The experiences of black and minority ethnic academics and teachers in England are similar in terms of aspirations, and their experience of organisations also points to similar patterns of exclusions. This integrated study provides thick data from qualitative interviews with academics and teachers, theorised through the lens of whiteness theory and social identity theory, of their experience of promotion and progression, how they feel organisations respond to them and how they, in turn, are responding to promotion and progression challenges. There was a shared view amongst the participants that, for black and minority ethnic academics and teachers to progress in England, they need ‘white sanction’ – a form of endorsement from white colleagues that in itself has an enabling power.