Number of women in top senior Civil Service posts continues to fall

The number of women in top management posts in the senior Civil Service has fallen for the past three years, despite government diversity targets being set four years ago.

The Civil Service Commissioners Annual Report, published on Tuesday, revealed that for 2007-08, only 24% of all senior appointments went to women, compared to 27% the year before, and 32% the year before that.

Yet in 2004, the government launched diversity targets as part of its spending review, which stated that 30% of top management posts should be women, and 27% of all senior Civil Service (SCS) posts should be occupied by a female. The government later said it would aim to meet these targets in the 10-point plan to improve diversity launched three years ago.

But Civil Service commissioner Janet Paraskeva said: “Overall this year we saw another decline in the percentage of senior appointments that went to women.”

Progress against the diversity targets was measured again in March 2008, but the findings will not be published until autumn this year. Other targets included that 4% of SCS posts should be occupied by people from minority ethnic backgrounds, and for 3.2% to be occupied by disabled people.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office launched a successor 10-point plan diversity strategy yesterday, to ramp up efforts to improve equality across the whole of the Civil Service.

The new strategy focuses on holding permanent secretaries to account for their department’s performance on diversity recruiting and progressing the most talented people from all different backgrounds and setting out further targets that widen the remit beyond senior positions.

Minister for the Civil Service Tom Watson said: “The Civil Service needs to be reflective of the diverse communities it serves and to become better at developing and delivering policies that include everyone in society.”

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