Mentoring and shadowing
195. The value of 'apprenticeships' on boards, along
with 'shadowing' and mentoring schemes, was a constant theme in
our evidence. The point is to enable people to apply for vacancies
and to secure appointments.
We were interested to hear of the work of Operation Black Vote
in providing opportunities for ethnic minority people to 'shadow'
a magistrate, giving them the chance to get first-hand experience
of how the courts work and what is involved in applying to become
a magistrate. A scheme for shadowing MPs was successful in giving
a number of other people an insight into the work of Parliament.
Similar schemes are now in prospect for public bodies,
and we hope that such projects will be fully supported. Judalene
Ross spoke of a mentoring scheme for the Home Office in Bristol
in which established ethnic minority post-holders pass on the
benefit of their experience to others who have just joined a public
body, with the use of videos and CD-Roms for the same purpose.
196. We support the need for mentoring and training,
especially for people who join boards without previous experience
of such service, but also for changes in the practice and attitudes
of boards to make them more receptive to a wider range of members.
Simon Woolley, national co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote,
said fears of tokenism, the difficulties of being "the only
black face in the room", and the experience of cultural differences
once black people did find a place on a public body lead to "a
conscious opt-out" within ethnic minority communities where
people feel about public bodies, "There's no place for us
We do not know how typical Mr Woolley's observations may be and
we do not have figures on drop-out rates for members of public
bodies. But we believe that the Cabinet Office should conduct
a census of drop-out rates, especially among those from diverse
backgrounds, and collect evidence on their reasons.
197. We recommend
that the Government should introduce apprenticeship, mentoring
and shadowing schemes for public bodies to increase access and
support, as part of a package of measures to increase the participation
of under-represented groups.
198. We recommend
that the Cabinet Office should conduct research into the drop-out
rates from the boards of public bodies.