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Civil Servants: Recruitment

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what proportion of senior civil servants are (a) from black or ethnic minority backgrounds and (b) women; (143734)

(2) what steps her Department is taking to improve representation of (a) black and ethnic minority groups and (b) women in the senior Civil Service; and what assessment she has made of (i) the effectiveness of those initiatives and (ii) levels of awareness of them among (A) potential recruits and (B) existing civil servants;

(3) what steps have been taken to ensure that aptitude and personality tests used in recruitment to the Civil Service are not biased against (a) people from black or ethnic minority backgrounds and (b) women.

The October 2006 senior civil service (SCS) statistics show that there were:

(a) 118 (3.2 per cent.) black or ethnic minority staff in the SCS; and

(b) 1288 (31.25 per cent.) women in the SCS, of those 249 (26.8 per cent.) were in topmanagement posts (i.e. at Director level or above).

The Cabinet Office launched the Civil Service wide diversity 10-Point Plan in November 2005, which is a robust and pro-active framework aimed at increasing representation of women, disabled people and BME staff at senior levels. A review of departmental progress against the 10-Point Plan has recently been conducted and further interventions/actions have been agreed to help accelerate progress towards further supporting and encouraging existing civil servants as well as attracting potential new recruits.

While departments are responsible for their individual recruitment practices, the 10 Point Plan, launched in November 2005, makes it clear that they should ensure recruitment practices are free from cultural bias in assessment processes.

For the Civil Service Fast Stream, which the Cabinet Office manages on behalf of the Civil Service, there are two key steps taken to counter unfair bias. These are:

(i) limiting the weight of any one selection method in the process (personality tests are not used); and (ii) subsequently evaluating these assessment methods for potential bias on an on-going and annual basis.