Vaz: Civil service must address ‘serious diversity problem’

The civil service has a “serious problem” with diversity in its senior ranks, Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has told CSW.

By Joshua.Chambers

27 Sep 2013

P3 Keith Vaz credit Photoshot Gary Lee 580

Speaking at Labour conference, he said: “When you have a situation where there isn’t a single black or Asian permanent secretary, then we have a serious problem as far as diversity is concerned”. This means, he said, that “the civil service is missing the opportunity to be as broad and as deep as the population, so it’s missing out on all those talented people.”

Asked how the head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake, should address this, he said that “for the next big job” there must be “people on the selection panel who can represent, and be representative of, diverse Britain.”

He added: “What we’ve found is that if your selection panel is all white and all male, that’s the kind of candidates that you’ll get.”

Sir Bob last week told an audience of civil servants at the Women into Leadership conference, organised by CSW publisher Dods, that there has been progress to improve diversity, and that there’s a “risk” that it’s not recognised: “I think we should recognise that [progress] and use that as a driver to say: ‘If we can achieve that, why not move it a stage further?’,” he said.

Kerslake also expressed scepticism on the use of quotas to improve diversity in the senior civil service, saying he is “not convinced” of their effectiveness.

He added: “I think the risk is people will then perceive they will get the job because of the quota rather than because of their abilities.”

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