Friday, 2 November 2007

Inequality at the Assembly

The BBC reported yesterday on research commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2005, in relation to equal opportunities.

Summed up:

  • 37 people from an ethnic minority background applied for jobs at the assembly government in the last financial year out of more than 1,200 applicants.
  • Just one ethnic minority employee was recruited by the Welsh Assembly Government in the whole of the last financial year.
  • There were also only two promotions of workers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • Many groups including ethnic minority groups had the perception that the organisation did not provide career opportunities for them.
  • The pay gap between men and women working for the Welsh Assembly Government has gone from 3.8% to nearly 11%.
As an organisation, the Welsh Assembly Government should be setting the standard within Wales and have fallen short on all counts. Opposition parties have called this deeply worrying and disappointing.

In a desperate attempt to spare the blushes of Jane Hutt, an assembly government spokesperson said that applicants from ethnic minority groups had risen from 2.1% in 2005-06 to 3.7% in 2006-07. This reflected work that had been done to raise awareness of the assembly government as an employer among ethnic minority groups, the spokesperson added.

The increasing pay gap between men and women within the government was due, said a spokesman, to a relatively large number of male civil servants transferring from old quangos like the Welsh Development Agency.

Having made a couple of telephone calls this morning, I can reveal that everything is back in order.

Not only has a woman (and a black woman at that) been working for Rhodri Morgan (Office of the First Minister) for some time, but also the next Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Government will be Welsh-born, as opposed to someone drafted in from outside Wales as usual.

The message from this is 'Onward and Upward', but with tongue firmly planted in cheek from this young lady.

8 comments:

johnny foreigner 4 November 2007 at 05:04  

Hello Miss Wagstaff.

Welcome to Welsh bloggery, such as it is.

Your summary sums it up summarily, but, of course, this is Wales after all.

There are only so many jobs and so many AMs and ex-quango members, their friends and families to cater for that there's hardly any room for outsiders, let alone ethnic people.

Added to which, you then have the language question...oh oh....no. Better not even go there. I wouldn't wish to upset anyone on my first posting.

Your primal pal.

johnny.

Anonymous 5 November 2007 at 08:57  

Welcome to the blogosphere.

Miss Wagstaff 5 November 2007 at 09:16  

Thanks for the welcome. I'm new to all this but it's a good way to have a rant now and again. Can't believe that I forgot to include you on my blogroll Johnny. As I've just started in a new role at work, hopefully I'll be able to get this blog off to a good start as soon as I settle in.

Anonymous 6 November 2007 at 22:36  

I'd like to know how many fluent Welsh speakers are employed at the Assembly - my guess that it's far less than the % of welsh speakers in the general population. I'd also like to know how many, if any, Welsh speakers are able to carry out the majority of their assembly duties through the medium of Welsh.

As for all these ethnic surveys ... well their as racist in essence as the one-drop policy of the Deep South, whose philosophy they so accurately reflect. Try reading-up about American Multi-Racial activists who reject that they should be catagorised by anything so arbitary as skin colour.

Anonymous 7 November 2007 at 13:54  

This is just typical of WAG - tokenism. There is an abundance of Welsh speaking staff in Welsh speakig areas, however, in Cardiff they mainly congregate in the Welsh Language Unit and Translation. The Assembly Commission are no better. Have you noticed how many black security guards there are? I imagine there are very few ethnic minority staff in a higher grade.

Miss Wagstaff 8 November 2007 at 11:32  

Thank you all for your comments. Please keep them coming. Anonymous (13:54) sums it up pretty well in a word - tokenism!

Many of my former quango friends have left the Assembly, either to move on to better paid jobs in a better environment. Many couldn't handle the civil servant way of working and felt too constrained. We will have to hope that this doesn't damage Wales in the long run.

Anonymous 16 November 2007 at 23:18  

Far from it anonymous 13.54, there is a very significant presence of ethnic minority staff in the higher grades of the Assembly Commission and WAG - most of them are English!

Miss Wagstaff 20 November 2007 at 09:37  

Having taken a look at the Management Board of the Welsh Assembly Government you can conclude there aren't many Welsh members. Whether this is down to a lack of Welsh talent within its senior staff is not something that I'm aware of. For all I know the Welsh talent look elsewhere in the civil service. It was 50:50 at the Assembly Commission pre Commission days.

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