Sexism ‘rife’ in local government

Sexism in local government has to be taken as seriously as racism, warns a
report released last week.

The year-long study by the Bristol School of Business shows that only 36 of
the 351 local government chief executives are women.

The report, Room at the Top?, shows that women CEOs feel they need to be
twice as good as men to be promoted and they fear that the proportion of women
is unlikely to increase significantly.

They also claim that male colleagues lack respect for them. Many mentioned
how male colleagues regularly comment on their appearance and a number said
male colleagues try to greet them with a kiss – an action some feel
inappropriate in a work environment. One male council leader would not let a
female CEO go to the bar to buy a drink.

The report is based on research including a survey of all local government
chief executives and 18 focus groups.

Francesca Okosi, director of HR at the London Borough of Brent said,
"The report’s findings do not surprise me as I have witnessed similar
experience. HR needs to play a key role in the changing macho culture in local
government. To do this we need the support of the elected members to raise
awareness of the issue."

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