Headlines: January 29th, 2010

New figures show that only one in eight people have served on a public body and that the majority of them are men from white backgrounds. Now a new campaign is being led by the Government Equalities Office and the Cabinet Office to encourage a more diverse group of people to apply for public appointments and so better reflect the communities they serve.

The research, commissioned by the Equalities Office and carried out by IPSOS MORI showed that women were less likely to consider applying for a public appointment than men and that people with disabilities are more likely to see the application process as unfair. People from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be interested in applying in the future but less likely to consider putting themselves forward.

The campaign has set new cross-Government targets, stating that by 2011 women must form half of new public appointees, disabled people should make up 14 per cent and those from ethnic minorities must reach 11 per cent. As at March 2008 women accounted for only a third of appointees, disabled people just 5 per cent and ethnic minorities only 5.7 per cent. Publication of the research coincides with the creation of a new Public Appointments Ambassadors network and two new mentoring programmes.

The Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, said: “Every day these public bodies are taking decisions which are having an effect on people’s lives and are shaping their future. They are important but they are not representative of society. We have to do more and we are.”