Female staff encouraged to work on public bodies

Employers are being urged to encourage female staff to apply for national
public appointments in an effort to improve diversity in public bodies and help
employees learn new skills.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, speaking at a Women and Public
Appointment seminar, said employers can play a key role in society if they
encourage staff to take up public appointments on some of the UK’s 1,000 public
bodies.

Currently, women make up just one-third of public appointees, and black and
Asian women make up less than 2 per cent.

The Government hopes women will hold 45 to 50 per cent of public
appointments by 2005.

Hewitt told delegates at the seminar, which was organised by the Women and
Equality Unit, that employees who work on public bodies, such as the Health and
Safety Commission, also learn new skills and bring these back to the business.

"We are absolutely clear that our public services need to reflect the
whole of the community they serve and are funded by," she said.

"Women make up half the population. If our public bodies are to serve
the consumer properly they must reflect this – only then can they be truly
representative of all sections of the community."

Hewitt said the skills and experience that women on public bodies brought
back to business would ensure their company’s service delivery reflects the
needs of the community.

HR consultant Janet Rubin, who has held senior HR positions at a number of
top UK companies, said her work with public bodies had advanced her career and
taught her many skills.

"You pick up best practice wherever you can," she said.

www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk   www.thewnc.org.uk

By Quentin Reade

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