Commissioner responds to the Centre for Public Appointments’ Diversity Action Plan
Thursday 14 December 2017
The Commissioner for Public Appointments responded today to the Centre for Public Appointments’ Diversity Action Plan. This is what he had to say:
I strongly welcome the Government’s new Diversity Action Plan for public appointments. It sets the right ambitions to ensure that public bodies are more representative of British society and set out some sensible practical steps to help us get there. As Commissioner for Public Appointments, I don’t appoint but will encourage greater diversity by highlighting good practice and by reporting on statistical trends each year.
Considerable progress has been made in recent years in appointing women candidates, but further efforts are required to sustain and build up this improvement from the present 45 per cent plus to 50 per cent, and particularly to raise the disappointingly low level of women appointed as chairs. The number of people from ethnic minorities obtaining public appointments has been rising to around 9 per cent, but that is still short of their 14 per cent share of the population. The Plan rightly identifies the need to develop networks to raise awareness of appointments and provide support for candidates. In contrast with women and ethnic minorities, the Government has not produced a numerical target for people with disabilities, though has promised a review of the barriers to them being appointed, which I welcome. I believe it is vital that improving on the low numbers of disabled candidates isis not neglected or put in the ‘too difficult’ box.
Encouraging more candidates from currently under-represented groups of all kinds (and I will report for the first time next year on appointments made to LGBT people and to those from various faith communities), as well as a better social and geographic spread, is not simply a matter of numbers. Diversity also produces better functioning and more responsive boards which are responsible for a wide range of services used by the public.
But it also requires sustained will on the part of ministers, departments and public bodies to deliver these ambitions and I will be monitoring the results closely.