Civil Service record on promoting staff from minorities ‘disgraceful’, warns Whitehall official

Few black or Asian staff appointed to top jobs, says Sir Paul Jenkins

Whitehall Editor

The Civil Service has a “disgraceful” record of promoting ethnic-minority candidates into senior positions and has no strategy to improve the situation, the official in charge of promoting diversity in Whitehall has warned.

In a remarkably frank admission, Sir Paul Jenkins said he felt a “strong sense of failure” at the lack of black and Asian civil servants rising to the top of their profession. And he admitted that the Government had little hope of achieving its aspiration of creating a Civil Service that was even close to being representative of the people it served.

“[The] figures are quite frankly disgraceful, and we are struggling to make any improvement at all,” he said. “I remain profoundly depressed about that, and I feel quite a strong sense of failure… We have not got a strategy. It [has[ stalled, and it’s now getting worse.”

Sir Paul, who is both the Treasury Solicitor and permanent secretary in charge of promoting diversity, made his comments in an interview with the trade journal Civil Service World.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that only 4.7 per cent of senior civil servants come from ethnic minority backgrounds. Across the service as a whole, about 10 per cent of employees come from ethnic minorities.

He said while progress had been made in promoting more women to the top of the civil service the same progress had not been made with ethnic minority candidates or people with a disability.

Sir Paul said he believed that subconscious discrimination was still a significant problem and pointed to a conversation he had had with one black civil servant who was on the cusp of being appointed to a senior role. “She said to me: ‘When I prepare for a senior Civil Service interview, one of the things I do is try and think myself into being a white man.’ That is shocking because it isn’t about diversity; it’s about stifling diversity.

“There’s undoubtedly a perception that the senior Civil Service is white and male and has certain cultural mindsets that are subconsciously discriminatory.”

Sir Paul, who is about to retire, said the Government had yet to publish a new diversity strategy to replace the one which expired last year.

“I think if everyone thought that a new strategic approach to diversity was as important as I think it is, we wouldn’t still be waiting for a strategy,” he said pointedly.

But the Cabinet Office said it had just commissioned new outside research to investigate “blockages” preventing women from reaching the most senior levels of the Civil Service. While women make up over half of all civil servants, they make up just 36 per cent of senior civil servants.

“To win the global race we need the best civil servants regardless of their background,” said a spokeswoman. “That is why we have published a new Capabilities Plan for the Civil Service and are overhauling the way talent is managed. We want to see more talented people, whatever their background, reach the very top roles”.

“Francis Maude [the Cabinet Office minister] has commissioned new research to examine the blockages preventing women from reaching the most senior levels of the Civil Service.”

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits