The number of women landing senior posts in the civil service would be raised from 37 to 45 per cent if Labour wins power next year, the party has pledged.
Michael Dugher, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, told union leaders that the target would be achieved by 2020. Labour would also aim to ensure that at least eight per cent of senior civil service posts went to people from ethnic minorities – up from the current 4.7 per cent.
A “diversity strategy” to be published next year would include “positive action” to help talented women in managerial jobs win promotion to the senior ranks. Jobs would normally be advertised for job-sharing or on a part-time basis.
Mr Dugher said: “We need diversity at all levels of the civil service so that it is representative of the society it services. That’s why we will act where the Government is failing.”
Women make up 53 per cent of the entire civil service. Latest Whitehall figures show the proportion of women in senior posts, which pay a minimum of £60,000 a year, rose from 34.3 per cent in April 2009 to 37.7 per cent in October last year. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, believes the way to ensure more women progress up the ladder is to tackle the problem’s root causes of the problem rather than make a few “cosmetic” appointments at the top.
A Cabinet Office source said: “We need the best civil servants to deliver first-class public services and provide expert advice for ministers. There’s no point playing politics over this – the proportion of women in the senior civil service has increased since 2009. But we know there’s much more to do.”