Lewisham council bosses fail to reflect diversity of community, say Lib Dems


London Assembly candidate for Lewisham and Greenwich, Ade Fatukasi, has called on Lewisham council to do more to reflect the diverse community it serves, after figures showed the council failing to increase the number of BAME officers in its most senior grades.

  • 46% of Lewisham population is from BAME communities [i]
  • Only 10% of the Cabinet’s 10 portfolios are held by non-white councillors (compared to 21% of councillors who are BAME)
  • Only 18% of officers in top grades are BAME (compared to 43% of staff overall)
  • More BAME candidates rejected in application process compared to white candidates

Ade has also highlighted that the Labour Cabinet lacks BAME representation, despite almost half Lewisham’s population being Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Of the ten portfolio areas on the Mayor’s Cabinet, only half of the Environment and Transport and half of the Jobs and Skills portfolios are held by not white councillors.[i]

The figures for senior grades at the Council are revealed in information discussed by the Safer and Stronger Communities select committee on Tuesday 16th July. They show that less than one in five of senior employees (in grades SMG1 –SMG3) is BAME. The figure for 2018/19 is only 18% - a slight increase on last year’s reported 17% but still much lower when compared to the overall BAME workforce which makes up 43% of all posts.[ii]

The report also reveals that 60% of applications were made by applicants who identify as BAME in 2018/19 but only 53% of appointments made were to BAME candidates.

The findings come on the back of controversy about the dismissal of Chief Executive Ian Thomas in 2018[iii]. Lewisham Lib Dems are warning of a danger of cronyism where candidates for senior grades are appointed on how politically acceptable they are rather than ability to do the job.

Lewisham Lib Dems are also calling for an action plan to address these inequalities and for Lewisham to

  • Use Anonymous CVs/application forms for shortlisting panels without names of applicants and their schools or colleges to remove unconscious bias
  • Review how and where the council advertises its senior posts
  • Ensure diversity of shortlisting and interview panels
  • Publish a BAME pay gap report (similar to the mandatory gender pay reporting) and set targets to ensure senior grades reflect the community they serve

Ade Fatukasi said: “No-one should be saying that Black candidates are less able to fill Cabinet or senior Officer roles. So it’s clear that something is going wrong with how the Mayor chooses his Cabinet and how Lewisham fills senior roles.

“Lewisham council is failing to reflect the diversity and talent of the diverse communities in Lewisham. Labour in Lewisham expect Black and Asian communities to just turn up and support them. It’s time to change – we demand better from our council so that BAME staff are fully represented at all levels.”

 




NOTES

[i] See 2011 Census

[ii] https://lewisham.gov.uk/mayorandcouncil/mayor/mayor-s-cabinet. The two roles held by non-white councillors are job shares covering half of two portfolios. 21% of Lewisham councillors are BAME (https://www.obv.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/pdf/BAME-LOCAL-POLITICAL-REPRESENTATION-AUDIT-FINAL.pdf)

[iii] http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s66612/06EmployementProfile2018-19SSCSC160719.pdf (p16) http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s66611/06CouncilsEmploymentProfileSSCSC080719.pdf (p5)

[iv] https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/17264938.police-called-as-lewisham-council-meeting-descends-into-chaos/

 


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