Examination of Witnesses(Questions 1300-1319)|
THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2003
1300. How many Muslim women do you have on your
books, because you network, and Tim Brighouse told us that he
is of interest to headhunters because he publishes a lot and he
speaks in conferences and so on, but how do you find out where
all those good people are out there, who are not conference speakers
and do not publish things?
(Ms Cawley) There are all sorts of ways of doing that
and conferences and speeches are only one of those routes.
1301. But this is specifically about Muslim
(Ms Cawley) Our team includes a Muslim man and a Muslim
woman. The woman involved won an award from the European Federation
of Black Women Business Owners for her role in promoting diversity
at corporate level. She is one of the most formidably networked
women I know, and I think with hand on heart we would not refer
to it as "on our books", but we have links with more
networks and organisations representing and knowing Muslim women,
or other under-represented groups, than any of our competitors,
and it is very important to us.
(Mr Davidson) One of my jobs in the organisation is
to get out there and speak at public events, and I am used exactly
by the individual concerned to get out there at speaking opportunities,
not only the European Federation of Black Women Business Owners
organisation but also at black MBA conferences and other locations
like that, where I get up and preach about the opportunities that
are there and how to get them, and there are also those workshops
that we run.
1302. Do you demystify it because when I read
these advertisements, I think "Goodness me! Where will you
get the giants to do these jobs?", and I think you just need
to demystify. There are loads of people out there who could do
these jobs but the advertisements are written in such a way that
many people will not attempt answering them?
(Ms Cawley) The advertisement has to grab the attention,
so if you say, "Here is a moderately dull organisation which
needs a moderately average person to run it", you will not
get much response, but where we believe in search is in that use
as a tool for diversity for other people whose attention you draw
the ad to, because a lot of people will read it and think, "That
is a person who walks on water and that is not me". Any person
specification describes the ideal candidate, so what we need to
do is make sure that we talk to a wide range of people and help
them to look constructively at their own experience rather than
say, "I have never been a chair of a board before",
or "I have never sat on a board before". We ask "What
are the things you do?". There is a particular issue about
Muslim women in terms of the way they are represented in their
own community. If you talk to most Muslim groups you will tend
to see men, so is not realistic at this point to say that at the
level we work at in Veredus, where chairing the biggest organisations
are the jobs we do, it is likely that you will find people who
are of that calibrewhich is why we put the effort into
developing capacity, so that five years down the line there will
be people of that calibre.
1303. I just think in the long run we are all
(Ms Cawley) Indeed, but if you thought like that you
would never get up in the morning!
1304. I am getting up earlier and earlier since
we have had these new hours! Finally, is there a professional
body for recruitment consultants? Do you have a code of ethics,
and who writes it?
(Mr Davidson) There is a professional body and there
is indeed a recommended code of ethics, but there is no mandatory
requirement to follow those. The cost of entry into doing recruitment
candidly is very small.
1305. Could I set myself up as a recruitment
(Mr Davidson) Yes, you could. Whether you survive
a long time is down to your personal talents and the quality of
work you do, obviouslybut we can talk about that!
1306. Did you have anything to do with the House
of Lords people's peers appointments? Yes or no?
(Ms Cawley) Not directly. We appointed the people
on the House of Lords Appointments Commission but not the people's
1307. But you did not sift the 3,000 applicants?
That was Price Waterhouse but it was your predecessor who was
involved in that, was it? You were not.
(Mr Davidson) We were not.
(Ms Cawley) And I have a very high opinion of my hairdresser!
1308. When you said that in health and local
government, when you felt routinely, now, faced with a man and
a woman at the end of a process organisations would now opt to
go for the woman, I got the impression you felt not entirely comfortable
(Mr Davidson) I think I said I am noticing more, certainly
in those sectors faced with a choice of two candidates who are
absolutely equal, that the woman will have the advantage. I am
comfortable if the client is happy at the end of the day but I
was just observing that in these situations it is an advantage
to be a woman, and in the public sector it is undoubtedly a dramatic
advantage to be a black woman currently. That kind of individual
is in enormous demand. As a white male I have to say I do not
think that is great, because I therefore am potentially disadvantaged
in going for jobs, but one has to take advantage of whatever scenario
one can. I believe in robust recruitment processes, and as long
as the best person gets the job that is tremendous.
1309. And you are not suggesting that there
is any compromise of the merit test?
(Mr Davidson) No. I am noting that when candidates
have got through on merit at that level, and there is really nothing
to choose, the woman definitely will have an advantage.
(Ms Cawley) When Hamish says that it is an advantage
because you are in demand, it is not about being a woman; it is
about being a woman with those talents. We would never encourage
a client to appoint someone who is not the best person for the
job simply because of gender, race or whatever. That does no one
any favours, least of all the individual concerned, so it is absolutely
about this merit. Certainly there is a premium on women and people
from black and minority ethnic communities, people with disabilities,
and differing sexualities. Anyone from an under-represented or
minority group who has the talent to succeed at top level will
be in demand because there are not many of them at the moment.
(Mr Davidson) It is interesting to note, however,
that the United States has made more progress in this area than
the United Kingdom, which is the reason why, when we were doing
recruitment for the chief executive of Birmingham first time around,
we went looking for candidates there and we were staggered at
the number of women candidates who were in senior posts in local
government there, and also black candidates. There was a real
talent pool, but then one is into the prejudice issue about different
1310. So is the man who walks away from this
situation where there is him and a woman feeling "I only
did not get this because I am not a woman" entitled to feel
miffed by that?
(Mr Davidson) I think that at that level of appointment,
when you have candidates who could do the job and you are paying
them to do the job, if you come through the process we are into
issues of chemistry and style and fit.
1311. And, you are saying, issues of gender?
(Mr Davidson) And if, realistically, and it is really
picking up the point that was made earlier about role models,
that organisation had very few women in senior posts, this is
an ideal opportunity to make that appointment.
1312. But if it is applying this test it may
have all women in senior posts?
(Mr Davidson) I think the issue will become far less
as appointments get more balanced, but I think we are a long way
from that happening.
1313. You have talked about the process. What
review do you do of the individual processes? Do you get reviewed
yourself, and how you are held to be accountable?
(Mr Davidson) We submit evaluations to our clients
at the end of each assignment and those evaluations are sent out
by myself. I sign the letters that go out and they are returned
to me, so each of the assignments is evaluated. Our client's degree
of satisfaction or otherwise of the project and how it has been
conducted is dealt with. Secondly, we do not let go. We will keep
in touch with the clients and the candidates thereafter to see
how they are getting on. There is a commercial reason for that
obviously, in the sense that there is a possibility of future
business, but also you will notice that some of the appointments
are for very tricky jobs in difficult organisations and I think
we have a responsibility, having perhaps been involved in persuading
an individual to take one of those jobs, not to leave them alone
and to ensure they have the support. That may involve them in
meeting fellow chief executives elsewhere or chairs who could
provide that support, so that is absolutely crucial. But the final
test in honesty of how effectively our job is done is whether
those organisations tend to use us again and whether they think
we have done a decent job, and I think we probably would not have
built the skill or business we have if the majority of our clients
did not feel we were doing a good job. What is very pertinent
in public recruitment is that there is a great deal of gossip
as to who is bad in terms of service providers, so we guard our
reputation quite jealously.
1314. So you have internal review and accountability,
but do you have any external accountability? Do the NAO, for example,
look at the recruitment processes and look at you and the way
you have carried out your job?
(Ms Cawley) The NAO does not because we are not a
public body for them to audit. In terms of external accountability
we attend the regular round table meetings that both the Civil
Service Commissioners and the Commissioner for Public Appointments
hold for recruitment consultants where in discussion we review
incidents in the previous period, anything that requires general
clarification and improvements in the process, and we discuss
what those might be. If there were complaints about processes
handled by us we would very quickly hear about that from the department
concerned or from the Commissions, because, talking about public
appointments, there is that complaint route direct to Dame Rennie.
Certainly to my knowledge we have never had any such complaint,
which I regard as a good positive indicator.
1315. A lot of the posts we have been talking
about are executive-type posts and/or chairs. Do you deal with
unpaid posts as well, and the generality of public sector appointments?
(Mr Davidson) Some of the posts that we are required
to fill are unpaid and our sister organisation Capita RAS undertakes
quite a number of those. The greater proportion of the unpaid
posts we would undertake might well be in the voluntary sector,
so from time to time, yes.
1316. One of the suggestions that has been made
in the Committee is that we should make some appointments by lot
to try and widen the scope. Have you got any views on that kind
of jury selection process?
(Mr Davidson) I think we would say very firmly that
organisations need the best form of leadership altogether and
the right people. I think it is correct that posts should be defined
not too narrowly. As an example of the way posts can be ill-defined,
you will sometimes see advertisements listing as an essential
qualification "graduate", when a more well-defined qualification
would be "graduate calibre", if that were meant at all.
We would certainly expect to see those posts defined. To simply
fill by lot is risking the future of organisations. Nonetheless,
I stand by the comment Alison made earlier, diverse teams tend
to make more informed decisions, so we are trying to ensure that
whatever process is used it is generating a diverse field and
a sufficiently generally diverse field is key. I do not think
we would be in favour of lots.
(Ms Cawley) If I could just add to that. I think it
is horses for courses. Drawing lots was a fantastic idea for the
Lottery because you got people from those communities who knew
those communities and you involved a wider range of people. I
think it would be inappropriate to select members of the Audit
Commission by that route! So there are posts where there is a
close community engagement where that knowledge of the community
is a key defining characteristic of what you want in that membership,
and there the drawing lots idea is a fabulous one; it is a really
good way of getting involvement and building confidence and capacity
in people who never thought that they could do anything like that.
There are inspiring tales about people who have become involved.
(Mr Davidson) Particularly at a community level.
(Ms Cawley) Inevitably in the jobs we deal with, it
would be inappropriate, as Hamish has said.
1317. One of the key things is whether the public
sector should form panels or not, and for the future of public
services we need the skills of leadership and managing change,
which are skills that are in particularly short supply in this
country, both in the private and public sector. Do you have a
role as headhunters in tackling that and providing that solution
to the government?
(Mr Davidson) I believe we have a role. I think Capita
as an organisation has a role in that regard as well. One of those
is defining what those skills are and encouraging clients to recognise
them. Leadership, as Alison suggested, comes in all shapes and
sizes. We talked about prejudice earlier. One area of prejudice
will be if, say, people think I happen to be a very effective
leader or agent of change, to the extent that I understand how
to shift organisations, shift attitudes, shift behaviour and shift
cultures, which is what we are talking about now, and I have done
that in an organisation of 600 people, why could I not do that
in one of 6,000 or 60,000? The key is do I understand how I will
have to shift my personal style to be able to make that transformation.
If there is a demonstration that I can do that, fine, let's have
a go. We challenge our clients dramatically on that basis. Typically,
clients will be very wary of employing individuals who have not
run something on a massive scale, defined either as people management
or budget size. That is one key thing. The second is that leadership
talents are learned in a variety of sectors. We think that the
voluntary sector is much under-rated in terms of the numbers of
very talented individuals who have learned complex skills and
managed multi-stakeholder organisations, and is not used as a
source of candidates at anything like the extent it should be,
and when those individuals apply for jobs they are not taken as
seriously as they should be. We have got to look overseas for
candidates in the same way and increasingly the public sector
is beginning to do that. We need to look to the private sector
in the same way. There needs to be a much greater movement between
the two sectors. Our business is very definitely at the cusp of
the public/private sector in helping that interface. The role
of our organisation is to promote that. Finally, the role is to
encourage some greater co-ordination of those initiatives being
undertaken, which at the moment are very fragmented, by various
arms of government to promote leadership skills. The National
College of School Leadership is one of the best examples of training
in fundamental leadership skills around, but what it is doing
as an example is not being matched and mirrored by other parts
of the public sector, and the local government community is, for
example, quite fragmented in that. Central government is too,
really. So there needs to be greater co-ordination there. I am
well aware that Rod Aldridge, the Chairman of Capita, has put
forward proposals in that regard to help suggestions in co-ordinating
1318. Would there be a case for a Sector Leadership
(Mr Davidson) Yes, a strong case.
1319. Thank you. A footnote to one of Brian's
questions, is there a going rate in your experience for quango
appointments, executive appointments in advisory bodies, or is
it all over the place?
(Mr Davidson) It is very, very variable. I would not
say there is any particular going rate, it is highly variable.
Many of these appointments are obviously non-executive and many
of them are X days a week or X days a month. There is then great
flexibility there because sometimes those posts in the early days
of taking them up may be more full time and then reducing down
to part time. There are great differentials.