11th January 2019 4 minutes read

Annual Public Service Report: B minus – Lots of effort but must do better

FTSE100 outperforming public sector in ethnic minority representation at senior levels

  • Of 1,472 senior leaders in central government 97%[1] are white
  • Only 0.3% of the Senior Civil Service are from black or Chinese backgrounds
  • Nearly all (98.7%) leaders of public corporations are white
  • There are still no non-white CEOs of London Boroughs, despite the ethno-diversity of the London population increasing to over 40%
  • In the Local Government pipeline, there has been a sharp decrease of 3.5% black, Chinese and other Asian senior leaders at top 20 level
  • Senior female representation has increased across all Senior Civil Service departments by 123 (1.5%) over 2016. This now totals 513 senior placements for women out of 1,472, outperforming the FTSE 100
  • Education regulatory bodies perform worse than other public sector areas: Ofsted and Ofqual are both 100% white at board level

Despite multiple initiatives to improve diversity in the UK public sector, progress continues to stall, according to Green Park’s Public Sector Leadership 5,000 report.

Ethnic diversity progression is still falling behind the year on year percentage increase seen in the leading FTSE 100 index, which currently stands at just over 7%. This is 2.9% within the Senior Civil Service, with only 43 ethnic minority leaders in a total of 1,472 positions. This exposes the public sector’s ongoing difficulty to attract and promote senior ethnic minority talent and emphasises how much work must be done if the government is to meet its stated aims around social mobility and become the UK’s most inclusive employer by 2020.

The annual report also exposes that there are no non-white heads of London Boroughs, despite representing the most ethnically diverse population in the UK, with over 40% of London constituents identifying as non-white.

Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park, said: “I am convinced that Central Government and the public sector would like to better serve and represent the people of Great Britain but clearly its supply chain and processes are not helping to make diverse hires at Board and Leadership level or build a diverse pipeline for senior roles.

“We continue to see too little programmatic investment and advocacy-led innovations. What we do see is highly aspirational well-meaning initiatives that focus on a single organisation’s own demands whilst systematically ignoring any supply-side market intelligence, causing perennially unbalanced market dynamics within the sector.

“To deal with the challenges ahead and our shifting demographics, the public sector as a whole must reposition itself as the employer of choice, focusing on traditional values of service but with a much more modern approach.. Even this will have a limited effect if the dominant culture is not adapted to address statistically lower promotional opportunities and higher levels of dissatisfaction among diverse staff.”

Neil Lupin, Managing Partner and Head of Public Sector Interim Management Practice, Green Park, says: “We believe that the public sector wants to be more inclusive and this latest report, layered against the current political landscape, provides a timely reminder of just how much more can be done. While local authorities continue to make progress compared to the FTSE 100 in terms of female representation, much more needs to be done, particularly to address the lack of BAME competition for Chief Executive roles.”

Key findings from the report:

Government departments

  • The figures for 2017 reveal that the sector has seen a backward movement in minority representation – 3% of employees at the Senior Civil Service (SCS) level (grades 1-4) are from an ethnic minority, this figure is 4% less than the 7% recorded in the Civil Service Statistics: March 2016.
  • The figures for 2017 reveal that the sector has seen a backward movement in minority representation – 3% of employees at the Senior Civil Service (SCS) level (grades 1-4) are from an ethnic minority, this figure is 4% less than the 7% recorded in the Civil Service Statistics: March 2016.
  • There are no employees of black or Chinese/other Asian origin in the highest two SCS grades 3 – 4 (in ascending order of seniority: deputy director, director, director-general, permanent secretary).
  • Ethnocultural diversity has seen a decrease, with minority representation in the SCS moving backwards by -0.5 percentage points for black leaders and -0.5 percentage points for Chinese and Other Asian leaders, this means that out of 1,472 senior leaders in Central Government only 43 are ethnic minorities, of which only five are black or Chinese/other Asian.
  • There have been incremental changes in gender diversity at SCS grades 1-3 with an aggregate decrease of -5.1 percentage points, while the senior ranks of government departments SCS grade 4 has seen an increase of 9 percentage points, with women now holding 1 in 5 positions.
  • The Civil Service is still outperforming the FTSE100 in gender diversity, increasing Senior Civil Service female representation collectively by 1.5%.

 Local Authorities

  • There are still no non-white local-authority CEOs in London and none among the Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitarian Authorities.
  • However, London Boroughs still remain the overall most diverse local-authorities (6.4% BAME) with an Ethnocultural Diversity comparable to the FTSE 100.
  • Gender diversity across the Top 20 level in local government remains virtually the same (42.5%), but is still significantly better than that shown by the FTSE 100.
  • The gender-diversity figures for London and non-London authorities are now comparable, but women who aspire to be CEOs or Chief Officers would find their chances of reaching the top jobs highest in local government’s Metropolitan Boroughs.

 Healthcare Sector

  • Although the NHS surpasses the FTSE 100 in gender diversity at senior levels, it still remains short of parity with the gender division in the population as a whole, with only NHS England being close in similar representation.
  • In terms of the top three positions, the National Health Service outperforms FTSE 100 representation with CEO gender diversity almost seven times greater than the private sector.
  • Black and Chinese/other Asian Britons are virtually unrepresented at senior levels across the service.

Public Corporations

  • There is virtually no ethnic minority representation at senior levels with 98.7% of leaders being white.

Comparing Ethnocultural Diversity in Public Corporations with FTSE 100 at Top 20 level 

Origin Public Corporation
Top 20 Level
FTSE 100
Top 20 Level
UK Working Age
Population (2011)
White 98.7% 92.7% 87.2%
Black 0.0% 1.6% 3.6%
Muslim 1.3% 1.9% 3.8%
Hindu + Sikh 0.0% 2.2% 3.5%
Chinese + other Asian 0.0% 1.3% 1.3%
Unknown/other 0.0% 0.2% 0.6%

Russell Group Universities and Educational Regulators

  • Gender diversity in leadership is relatively healthy, surpassing that of the FTSE 100.
  • Ethnocultural diversity is low, with levels similar to those of local government.
  • Regulators Ofsted and Ofqual have a 100% white board.
  • Russell Group Universities’ ethnocultural diversity sits on average at 97.6 per cent white.

[1] Civil Service Stats Mar’16 states 7% ethnic minority in SCS1-4. As our analysis does not include nameless roles that aren’t publicly available, particularly within MOD and MI6. We predict this is where the discrepancy lies.

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