The research also showed that women are less likely to consider applying for a public appointment than men; disabled people are less likely to feel that the application process is open and fair; and that while those from BAME backgrounds are more likely to be interested in applying in the future, they are less likely to consider putting themselves forward.
Public bodies make decisions that affect our day to day lives, but too few women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people sit on boards like the Arts Council, the governing bodies of local hospitals and the Competition Commission. A campaign led by the Government Equalities Office and the Cabinet Office aims to encourage a more diverse group of people to apply for public appointments so our public bodies better reflect the communities they serve.
Tough new cross-Government targets state that by 2011 women must form 50% of new public appointees, disabled people 14%, and people from ethnic minorities 11%. This will help ensure that Public Bodies better reflect the communities they serve. As at March 2008 women formed 33% of public appointees, disabled people 5%, and people from ethnic minorities 5.7%.
The research supports the launch of a new Public Appointments Ambassadors network and two new public appointments mentoring programmes. The programmes will support people from diverse backgrounds in applying for public appointments.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, and Maria Eagle, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, will speak at the event which is chaired by Bonnie Greer, playwright and Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, 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.”
Maria Eagle MP, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, said:
“We are a diverse nation and our public bodies should reflect that. It’s only by drawing on the talent and experience of people from all backgrounds that we’ll have public boards that make the best decisions.
“Public bodies carry out a wide range of vital activities that affect the lives of people up and down the country, shaping policy and making key decisions. We all stand to benefit from the improved decision making that can come from a wider range of contributions.
“That’s why our Public Appointments Ambassadors programme is so important. Nearly 200 inspirational people from a wide range of backgrounds will give potential candidates the advice and support they need to apply for public appointments, and will ensure that the best people from diverse backgrounds know about, and apply for, the opportunities available.”
Peter Cooke, trustee/vice-chair of the Independent Living Fund and Public Appointment Ambassador said:
“Holding a public appointment is an important part of my life. Not only does it support the growth of my professional and life skills, it also enables me to shape the quality of the public services for me and my community.
“I believe it’s important that our public boards should reflect the diversity of our society, and I’m proud to take part in this campaign to help educate and support the right people in applying for public appointments.”
The reception will be attended by over 180 Public Appointment Ambassadors from across the country. The Ambassadors will be speaking at events across the country. They will help demonstrate how serving on the board of a public body can help to enhance professional and life skills while also making a difference and helping to shape the quality of public services.
Key findings from the research include:
• Women are less likely than men to consider applying for public appointments
• Those from BAME backgrounds are less likely to know somebody who has been on a committee or board of a public body
• Those from BAME backgrounds are more likely to claim knowledge about public appointments
• Those from BAME backgrounds are more likely to be interested in applying in the future
• People with a disability are more likely to feel it is difficult for them to apply for a public appointment
• 89% of the public say they have never considered applying for a national public appointment
For more information on Public Appointments, please visit: www.direct.gov.uk/publicappointments
For the IPSOS MORI research report, please visit: www.equalities.gov.uk