by Kim Thomas
Originally published: May 19, 2016
The public sector has a duty to ensure equality, yet few women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds are reaching the upper echelons of public finance. What can be done to change this?
The arguments for a diverse workforce have largely been won. Research by McKinsey & Company has shown that businesses with more diverse teams at the top are more likely to be financially successful. As the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, launched in March, puts it: “A balanced workforce is good for business – it is good for customers, for profitability and workplace culture, and is increasingly attractive for investors.”
In the public sector, the drivers are slightly different. Public bodies have an equality duty, in force since 2011, that requires them to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different groups when carrying out their activities. Stuart Elrick, secretary of the Public Service People Managers’ Association, says: “People in public service know that to help understand the communities they serve, it’s good to have people from these communities working for them.”
Yet the upper reaches of public finance remain strikingly male and white. So why are so few women and ethnic minorities reaching the top? And what can be done to change this?