Harman announces public appointments diversity drive

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women & Equality, and Ed Miliband, Cabinet Office Minister, have announced new measures to increase the number of women, disabled people, and black, Asian and minority ethnic people appointed to the boards of public bodies, so that they reflect the wider population.

Only a third (34.4%) of public appointees are currently women, although women make up more than half of the population. The Government intends to increase the number of women appointees to at least 40% by 2011.

As part of the drive, the Women's National Commission has this month started a new project to increase the numbers of women applying for public appointments. This includes improving advice and information on its website, involving its 500 partner organisations, increasing awareness of opportunities, and encouraging women to apply.

The Government also intends to set new targets on race and disability. People from ethnic minorities currently hold less than six per cent of posts, despite making up nearly eleven per cent of the population. People with a disability current make up just one in twenty appointees, even though one in five of the working age population has a disability.

Other steps include giving the Commissioner for Public Appointments a stronger diversity remit, with the power to take steps to encourage and increase the number of women, disabled, and minority ethnic appointees.

Ms Harman said:

“We need to step up our efforts. Our ultimate aim is to have fair representation of women, black and Asian, and disabled people at every level of our democracy, including in public bodies. I’m going to keep a sharp eye on appointments made by each Government department.”

Ms Harman will also announce that the Government will commission further research into barriers such as why more women don’t step forward or apply for roles.  A leaflet showing the number of women, disabled, and minority ethnic appointees on public bodies by Government Department is available from: www.equalities.gov.uk


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Asif Yusuf



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