Headlines: July 27th, 2000

The annual report of the Public Appointments Commissioner reveals that there is a long way to go to make public appointments truly representative and diverse. The report covers the 12,000 ministerial appointments to public bodies, including NHS Trusts. It shows that 39% of appointments were women, 8.9% were from ethnic minorities and 2.9% had a disability. Although these figures are an improvement on the previous year the percentage of women appointed is a long way from the target of 50%.The prime difficulty in making public appointments more representative is that women and people from the ethnic minorities do not offer themselves for appointment in sufficient numbers. This was highlighted in a recent survey which revealed that only 26% of local councillors are women. It identified practical barriers women face such as bearing the double burden of paid work and the main responsibility for childcare and housework.

A range of initiatives have been launched to raise public awareness of the need for more people to put themselves forward for public office. In November there will be a ‘public service’ week bringing together a number of organisations to promote public appointments.