Here’s one: women make up 64% of the council’s 15,000 workforce (not counting schools) and fill two-thirds of the council’s lowest-paid jobs.
And the higher you go up the career/salary ladder, the lower the proportion of women in the jobs. Arrive at chief officer level and women are outnumbered 25:18. Get to the dizzy heights of the council’s nine-strong top leadership team and there are only two women.
Why should that be? A council report on Equality and Diversity in the Workforce suggests there may be a problem with the development and promotion of women:
“The % figures for the total workforce correlate most closely to lower graded posts, which may suggest that we can recruit, but development and promotion does not replicate this, or that this is just the largest group of the workforce,” it says.
The report doesn’t offer comparative stats for last year, so it’s not clear whether the situation is improving or deteriorating.
Move up the ladder and …
Over two thirds (69%) of those BME employees are employed on the council’s lowest salary/career scales. Move up the ladder to the circa £38k+ council jobs and BME representation falls off: at JNC level (the top 474 jobs), only 9.1% of council staff are from a BME background, down from 14.7% in 2007.
There was no data in the report about the BME presence at chief officer level or on the top management team. (I don’t want to make assumptions from names. Anyone know the facts?)
On the issue of staff with disabilities, the report says there is no comparable data from the census, but “the number of disabled staff employed remains low, at 5.9%”.
“Startling” lack of young employees
Then there are young people: according to census data, there were nearly 116,000 16-24 year-olds living in Leeds in 2011 – representing 15% of the total population. But only 4.6% of the council’s workforce is aged between 16 and 25.
Describing the statistic as “startling”, the report says it may be a reflection of the number of young people staying in education, and should be seen against the backdrop of high youth unemployment.
But it goes on to admit:
“The challenge as to whether the public sector and in particular local government is seen as an employer of choice to young people needs to be seen as a priority, the Council need the lifeblood of young people across all services”.
Council workforce representative of city?
Of course there’s plenty of work being attempted to address all the issues arising from the stats. And plenty more being suggested in an appendix to the report – from holding “insight days” for school leavers, to actively promoting leadership programmes to eligible BME staff, to promoting flexible working at senior levels to increase female representation.
Part of the problem is that the scope for increasing representation on the overall workforce is severely limited: budget cuts mean the council is shedding staff, and only recruiting in “business critical” areas.
“Will we be able (in the future) to make such statements as, ‘we will be representative of the City?’,” the report asks.
The report is going to be discussed by councillors at a meeting of one of the council’s watchdog scrutiny committees next Monday (18th March).