by Peter Riddell
Originally published: July 5, 2017
Public appointments are gradually becoming more representative of the public as a whole, with more women, BAME and disabled people gaining positions on public bodies and advisory committees. That is the welcome message of the annual survey of ministerial appointments and reappointments.
But progress in many cases is slow and patchy, and more needs to be done if those who are appointed are to reflect the diversity of Britain. This applies especially to the appointment of chairs of public bodies. Responsibility, and the credit, for this performance lie with government ministers and departments who do the appointing. I don’t. My role is to report and to champion diversity, highlighting good practice and urging changes that will broaden the range of potential, and actual, appointees to the boards of public bodies.
The statistics are an accumulation of decisions made across Whitehall, co-ordinated by the Centre for Public Appointments in the Cabinet Office. The link between the desire for greater diversity and the outcomes is in many respects indirect and, in part, fortuitous. There are good intentions but the levers of decision-making that can produce increased diversity are widely spread.