Nicola Brewer leaves Equality and Human Rights Commission

Equality practitioners were surprised by the unexpected departure of Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The body officially confirmed on Friday that she would be leaving the Commission to take up a new job.

Nicola Brewer's announcement came a week after she triggered an angry response from women's rights campaigners. She had suggested in a recent article published by the Guardian that mandatory Equal pay audits should be removed from the forthcoming Equalities Bill.

Her comments were received with astonishment as she expressed such a move should be postponed until the recession had past, and it was best to “encourage” companies to conduct pay audits in the interim. It’s not hard to imagine how many would view this as double standards from the head of an Equalities body, perhaps controversial.

Controversy is no stranger to the former CEO as last year the she raised similar distaste amongst Woman’s rights campaigners buy suggesting new maternity laws could be holding women back.

Her departure followed a day after another article, this time written by Dr. Brewer herself for the Guardian aimed to clarify the commission’s position on equal pay audits. Some may question if the article was a retraction for her earlier comments rather than a “clarification”.  Could her resignation have been an expression of vindication after being forced to eat her words?

The departure may have not been completely unexpected, the Guardian reports  Dr.Brewer had clashed with the commission's chair, Trevor Phillips, on a number of occasions and that she had been considering an exit for some time. No announcement has been made as of yet of what the former CEO’s new role will be.

Dr. Brewer joined the Commission in March 2007 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she was Director General, Europe. She was the Commission's first full-time member of staff.

Upon her departure, the Board and the Commission's Chair, Trevor Phillips, highlighted for special recognition several of Dr. Brewer's key achievements including:

  • getting the Commission open for business and functioning on time in October 2007
  • building a talented management team
  • setting the Commission on its way to its first three-year strategy, which will shortly be approved by the Commission's Board and then be sent on to Parliament in the next month.
  • helping to reframe the debate around parental leave and modern ways of working that meet the challenges of the 21st century, the details of which will shortly become apparent with the launch of the Commission's Working Better report at the end of this month.

Nicola Brewer said:

 'It was an incredibly hard decision to leave the EHRC, but the time is right to move on.  The Commission is now securely established in its second year of operation, poised to finalise its three year strategic plan and develop ambitious goals for the future.
'It has been a privilege to work with colleagues on the Board, in the organisation and with our wider partners.  I am looking forward to an exciting new challenge, but feel proud to have been part of creating such a unique new body.  I wish the Commission every success in the future.'

Trevor Phillips said:

'Nicola is going to an extraordinary opportunity that few of us could resist. Although it is still not possible for reasons to do with the nature of her new role to say publicly where she is going, I hope she won't mind me saying that I know her attachment to the Commission is such that only an exceptional opportunity would have persuaded her to leave.’


posted by, Dizali Mentha



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