In 1998, the government made a commitment to make the Civil Service more open and diverse, setting targets to be achieved by 2004-05, some of which have been met.
But there is still much to be done. Applications from ethnic minorities fell from 17% in 2002 to 16.3% in 2003. The proportion of successful candidates from ethnic minorities in the Civil Service fell from 9.7% in 2002 to 7.8% in 2003. As ethnic minorities progress through its Fast Stream recruitment selection stages, they tend to be less successful than white candidates: 1.2% of non-white candidates were recommended for appointment in 2003, compared to 2.5% overall.
Some 3.5% of successful candidates declared a disability in 2003. This was down from 3.9% the previous year, but disabled applicants were proportionally more successful.
The Civil Service has transferred the initial stage of its Fast Stream recruitment process online, featuring a new range of tests developed with HR consultancy, Cubiks. These include a pre-selection job preview and competency and cognitive tests. The aim of using the internet is to make the recruitment process easily accessible to all, including those who do not traditionally see the Civil Service as a career option.
“We are attempting to demystify and open up the recruitment process and make it more diversity friendly. Going online has helped us do that, with people driving themselves through the process,” says Yvette Radford-Foley, head of Fast Stream, European and recruitment.
As Fast Stream is responsible for rec-ruiting tomorrow’s leaders, it plays a key role in addressing diversity. To bring more ethnic minorities through the Fast Stream process, this year, the Cabinet Office is weighting cognitive and competency tests differently, and has introduced another step to the selection process, the electronic in-tray (e-tray) work simulation exercise.
“We are weighting competency tests against cognitive tests to optimise the share of ethnic minority graduates. At this point in the sifting process, we used to turn 90% of candidates away as we only needed 10%, but we have now introduced another step, allowing us to bring 50% of candidates on to the new e-tray stage,” says Radford-Foley.
Although other recruiters use electronic in-tray exercises, this was a significant change for the Cabinet Office, according to John Harradence, chief psychologist at the Civil Service Selection Board.
“We are trying to imp