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Pictured from left to right: BME professionals listening attentively, Yvonne Brown, Board Member of Great Ormond St. Hospital, Dr. Atul Shah, CEO of Diverse Ethics and Board Member, MLA and FBFE and Jan Nottingham, Head of Candidate Development at the Appointments Commission

Glass Ceilings mean that you can look but cannot reach the top. The statistics about public leadership and ethnic diversity in Britain are very poor - less than 5% are in leadership positions, when if you look at the educational achievements and skills, BME professionals are some of the most accomplished and skilled individuals in Britain - probably 25% of the skilled workforce.

On 15th June 2010, Diverse Ethics brought together thirty highly skilled BME professionals from all walks of life to meet the CEO of the Appointments Commission, Andrea Sutcliffe and their Head of Candidate Development, Jan Nottingham. A bridge was built, and the journey to cross an ocean, began in earnest. The Appointments Commission is the only organisation in the country dedicated to public appointments and makes over 1000 appointments in the health and social care communities as well as providing recruitment and selection services for hundreds of other posts across government.  The Commission is committed to finding the best possible people for public appointments and recognise that to do so they must find candidates who are as diverse and varied as the range of public services on which we all rely.

Public Appointments essentially mean non-executive director/governor positions in sizable organisations funded from the public purse. Board members have a role to 'govern' and ensure that public money is being used wisely and efficiently. The Appointments Commission, is one of the largest national bodies which monitors and administers the recruitment process in Britain, especially for the National Health Service, which has a large number of boards.

The traditional method of recruitment is an advert on the website and in the paper. But now there is a new pro-active initiative to meet people directly and explain the opportunities and the application process so that a diversity of candidates is achieved. Diverse Ethics was appointed to facilitate this dialogue nationally for BME professionals, and the launch seminar in London was a huge success. At this seminar, thirty candidates were selected after a brief pre-application process to attend. They were then explained the ropes by the Appointments Commission, and two existing Board members, Yvonne Brown and Atul Shah, spoke about their practical experiences. Yvonne spoke about the excitement of the role and the demands and challenges, and Atul reflected on the difficulty of getting onto a Board, but the learning once he got there was worth it. Through the Boards, he has met a lot of highly motivated and talented individuals from different walks of life and learnt to really value the huge civic culture that influences British society.

In fact, Marigold Nunes was so impressed that she completed her first application the same evening! Ajay Mehta, CEO of Ki-Rin, found the event very stimulating and well-conducted. He explained : "there is a huge need for BME professionals to come together on a regular basis and engage on subjects like governance and leadership."

Reflecting on the event, Jan Nottingham from the Appointments Commission said: "It was a real pleasure to meet so many highly talented and motivated people, and working with Diverse Ethics has opened a whole new audience for our recruitment and professional community engagement. We hope many of the people who attended will get on to Public Boards in the next twelve months, and would like to support them in the process."

You can find out more about Public Appointments, Vacancies and Tips on How to get on Board by visiting Appointments Commission Website

Article added on 17th June 2010 at 4:10pm
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