While we all recognise that truly representative public services must reflect the make-up of modern society and incorporate the skills, experience and commitment
of people from all walks of life, many of the people who could make an
important contribution simply don’t know how to get involved, or, if they do
know how, they think ‘it’s not for me’. That’s why, in June 2009, the
Government Equalities Office and Cabinet Office set new targets to increase
diversity in public appointments, not because it’s the politically correct
thing to do, but because it’s vital to have different perspectives and diverse
local voices around the table.
Women currently form 33.3%; ethnic minorities 5.7% ; and people with
disabilities 5% of all public appointees. Under tough new cross-Government
targets, by 2011 the Government wants to see women form 50% of new public
appointees, disabled people 14%, and people from ethnic minorities 11%, so that
the boards of public bodies better reflect society.
An important part of the Government's action plan was the appointment of UK Ambassadors for
public appointments, and Dawn Hillier was appointed for South Essex. I am
committed to working together with my fellow Ambassador Beryl Furr to reach as
many people as possible in our year of office, since our success will be judged
by the success of those who apply for, and hopefully are appointed, to these
important roles, many of which are remunerated.
Often the first steps into politics is through involvement with public services and applying for a public
appointment is an important stage in developing a political career. Vacancies
are advertised both locally and nationally, and the appointment process is
thorough and fair, with jobs awarded to the best person, not on age, colour,
religion, sexuality or disability. But if people don’t apply then they can’t be
considered, and we want to help open up the system so that public boards become
better connected to, and representative of local communities. This really is
the best way to ensure high quality public services that meet local needs.
Public appointments cover a wide range of activities from health, social care, science and research to criminal
justice, the arts, culture and learning. Each sector provides successful
applicants with ongoing training and development to equip them for the job, and
this training can also enhance personal and career prospects. For further
information, you may like to explore the Equalities website www.equalities.gov.uk which contains
links to related sites, including the Public Appointments Commission, the
Women’s National Campaign and DirectGov and which provides both regularly
updated vacancies in the public sector and helpful advice for potential
applicants. Most importantly, Non-Executive Directors
bring local knowledge and experience into large and complex public
organisations, and they have a critical role as guardians of good practice and
accountability to the wider community.
If you would like further information about being a Non-Executive Director, we would be delighted to talk
to your group or organisation.
Dawn HillierCommissioner for Equalities
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