Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
MONDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2006
STRATTON CBE AND
Q160 Harry Cohen: I understand; but
actually that would be quite interesting, to have those other
factors, because that is still a huge proportion, that 70%. Can
you give us a note on that, about that 70%?
Ms Stratton: Yes, we will. If
I ask the business Commission to look at that specifically and
then, in their report, come back to you, would that be okay?
Q161 Harry Cohen: That will be fine;
thank you. Then to pick up on some of your points, you also talked
about measures of practical help, was one of your recommendations;
where has the Commission got, where have you got with that, with
what sorts of ideas about practical help?
Ms Stratton: We are going as fast
as we can. I cannot say that I would be really confident in prejudging
what the practical help is. Some of it is what we have been talking
about right now, which is getting inside companies, and again
Fair Cities does a lot of this. When we are inside a company,
looking at the kinds of job qualifications, we are also asking
why they have got those qualifications, are they artificial, do
you really need an A level for the particular job that they are
recruiting for, and the answer lots of times is "No."
Tackling that, looking at how they promote. If you look at companies,
most companies, around 75%, right now, have some kind of formal
equal opportunities policy; only 25% monitor against those. Only
10%, I think it is, monitor promotion policies and only five look
at pay, whether pay is equitable. There is a lot to be done by
looking inside the companies and asking basic questions. The other
is simply looking at their recruitment policies; a lot recruit
the way they have always done for the last 20 years and they get
the same white men they always have.
Ms Shah: If I may add a practical
example to that. One of the employers that we are working with
in London, in our Brent pilot, is Transport for London,
and they were very keen to work with us and improve the diversity
of their customer assistance. We found that, working with their
recruitment practices, we could prepare people to pass their recruitment
in assessment centres. There were all sorts of criteria where
we thought, "Well, hang on, if you just change that, it's
not a critical part of the job but it helps expose some of those
issues, but if you were to change that we'd be able to bring these
kinds of new candidates to you much more effectively and we do
not think, in any way, it would undermine your effectiveness as
an organisation or their effectiveness to do the job." We
are working with them actually to look in detail at their recruitment
practices, but we are only in a position to do that once we have
credibly delivered sound people for them and actually helped contribute
to their business objectives. It is developing that relationship,
where over a cycle of working with them we have got that trust,
for them to be able to trust in us, and to be able to challenge
them, as a critical friend, in their processes.
Q162 Harry Cohen: How is this coming
into the public domain? You said about the Commission reporting
in time for the Budget, presumably that is for any financial implications,
but these sorts of changes, which might be quite detailed in some
ways, changing recruitment and retention policies, how will that
find its way into the public domain, and therefore across the
Ms Stratton: In time for the Budget
will be the key recommendations on performance indicators, mostly
on performance indicators, and recommendations on national policy.
We then will produce a full report, in late spring or early summer,
which will have all of this detail in it, of what we have learned
in the cities. It is our hope that one of the tangible outcomes
of this will be that it will not be just the five cities in the
City Strategy which take this on, but that all of them start to
look and basically set objectives for their key sectors, in terms
of the populations which need to be served.
Q163 Harry Cohen: If there is to
be a legislative component, presumably that will follow your late
spring, early summer report, and we can pick up on some of those
points. In fact, I note that you also make the point that if measures
did not produce a marked result within the next few years the
Government would need to consider seriously the need for legislation
to cover the private sector. Is it looking like legislation will
be needed to push the private sector in this direction?
Ms Stratton: I think that is difficult
to tell. First of all, I would say that I do not think there is
a great deal of appetite for legislation right now; but before
you extend legislation we need to look at what has happened in
the public sector, and so that would provide a little bit more
evidence. What we do not know is, now it exists for public agencies,
did it have any impact there; if it did have impact there then
you have a much stronger case, if it did not then we have to figure
out some other way to force the issue.
Q164 Harry Cohen: In a sense, that
is my last point. We have got legislation in relation to the public
sector, a duty not to discriminate and to report about it. I have
never understood really why that has not been in the private sector.
Ms Stratton: Nor do I.
Q165 Harry Cohen: I am interested
in you saying "Nor do I" because that is very useful;
but, this team of business leaders, are they likely to address
this point, do they have an objection to it?
Ms Stratton: They will definitely
address it. There is probably a mix of views. If you talk to the
leaders of some of the very large multinational companies, any
company that deals in the United States does not think this is
a big deal. Why not? I think the real issue is what is the impact
on smaller companies, on small firms, what does it mean for further
regulation, red tape; that I think is really the issue, would
be my guess.
Chairman: Thank you very much. That has
been fascinating. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.