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Local government experiencing leadership diversity crisis, says Green Park

Green Park’s Local Government Leadership 2018 report highlights the failure of local government leadership to diversify. The report reveals that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) CEOs represent just 3% of the heads of the UK’s 418 unitary authorities, county councils, district councils, metropolitan boroughs and London boroughs. This is a tiny percentage compared to the overall UK population, where demographics show 13% of working age citizens are non-white. In total, just ten individuals holding the highest leadership position across all tiers of UK local government are from a BAME background. 

Green Park’s report analyses ethnocultural diversity of both chief executive and chief officer roles across local authorities. The report analyses diversity trends within senior leadership, enabling authorities to measure their progress in creating inclusive senior teams that better reflect their wider workforce and communities they serve.

Metropolitan boroughs have a dismal record when it comes to ethnocultural diversity, with not a single ethnic minority CEO in 2017’s and 2018’s leadership analysis, despite these organisations representing some of the most diverse populations in the UK.  County councils also have no BAME CEOs, falling from 3.7% in 2017, while district councils have six BAME CEOs, yet this is only a representation level of just 3.3%.  Despite the population of London comprising 40% non-whites, only two of London’s 32 boroughs have a BAME CEO. 

Analysing the wider senior talent pool, the top 20 management positions incorporating both the CEO and their direct reports (chief officers), BAME representation is still a tiny fraction compared to the overall working age population with an ethnic minority background.  Across the top 20 senior positions, just 3.7% are held by BAME leaders, which compares incredibly poorly when set against the leading private sector organisations. In the FTSE 100, BAME representation among the top 20 leaders in organisations is currently 7.1%.  County councils have the worst levels of ethnic minority representation in the upper echelons of management, with just 2.6% of the top 20 positions held by an individual with a BAME background.

Neil Lupin, managing partner at Green Park, commented, “At a time when public scrutiny and trust is volatile, local authorities have an even greater responsibility to not only to meet the demands of their communities, but also to also better reflect them from a diversity and inclusion perspective.  To build management teams that reflect the interests of the whole population they represent, local authorities need to ensure that they remove institutional bias in all its forms from their recruitment and leadership development processes to enable employees to reach their full potential based on merit. While some progress has been made in the past 12 months - most notably in London – little or no progress has been made in other parts of the country with some key metrics going backwards not forwards. Building a network of talented future leaders, both inside and outside the local authority, is vital to its future success.”

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