Azara Blog: Political correctness in hiring of top civil servants

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Date published: 2005/10/31

The Financial Times says (subscription service):

Top civil servants are to have their pay and bonuses linked to the achievement of increased targets on the number of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the senior civil service.

The move to hold permanent secretaries accountable through the performance appraisal system is part of a 10-point diversity plan to be unveiled on Tuesday by John Hutton, Cabinet Office minister, and Sir Gus O'Donnell, head of the civil service.

Progress on achieving diversity targets will for the first time be a factor in permanent secretaries' performance appraisal discussions.

A senior Cabinet Office official said the move "sends a message to the very top people who have real influence in setting their departments' strategy".

Waqar Azmi, chief diversity adviser to the Cabinet Office, told a diversity conference in London yesterday that the plan would also aim to make all senior civil service posts open to flexible working unless there was "robust justification" for failing to do so.

The civil service was already doing better than other sectors, with women accounting for 29 per cent of senior civil servants, against 9 per cent of senior private sector executives, he told the conference, organised by the Guardian and Observer newspapers.

Nevertheless, the service had failed to achieve its 2005 target for women to comprise 35 per cent of the senior civil service. Other 2005 targets for ethnic minorities to hold 3.2 per cent of senior civil service posts and for people with disabilities to hold 2.3 per cent had been achieved. Progress towards the 2008 targets would be published every six months.

Great, hire an incompetent woman and get a pay rise. Hire two and get a free holiday. Hire a blind Asian Islamic lesbian and retire early on the windfall. What would the country ever do without New Labour?

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