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Recruitment of Under-Represented Groups into the Senior Civil Service
Hooker H, Jagger N, Baldwin S
a study commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to explore the attitudes and job search behaviours of the senior managers who are from under-represented groups, including women, those with a long-term health condition or disability, and those from ethnic minorities. The main purpose of the project is to provide detailed information on the job search behaviours and perceptions of senior potential candidates from the under-represented groups so that DWP are more able to target these groups more effectively when recruiting for senior posts within the organisation.
Current employment and career prospects
There were significant variations across different groups of managers in their responses to which factors had been more influential when deciding to join their current organisation:
Job search behaviours
Current job search activities of senior potential managers
The findings of NORAS data indicated that as many as six in ten (59 per cent) senior managers were actively looking for a new managerial position at the time of their data collection, which was between September and November 2006. The results of the survey data were consistent with that of NORAS; 56 per cent of the survey managers reported that they were actively seeking a more senior managerial position.
Job search methods used by those from under-represented groups
The results showed the following significant differences in terms of job search methods used to apply for senior roles:
Taken together, the use of online searches and online advertising were among the top three type of job search methods (after press advertising) when looking for jobs. However, only around one in ten reported that they had found their current employment through online job searches or online advertising. The factors explaining the discrepancy between the two sets of findings were the age and length of tenure of the survey managers.
Attitudes towards working in the civil service
When managers were asked to indicate how far they agreed or disagreed that they would consider working in five different organisations, the civil service and local government were found to be at the bottom of the list. The findings indicated that white managers were least likely to consider working in the civil service or in local government, with black and Asian managers being the mostly likely groups to consider working in the civil service.
There were significant differences between the following groups of managers:
Differences in the attractiveness of senior roles in the civil service
Across the survey as a whole a high proportion of managers (78 per cent) held the view that the working environment within the civil service was too bureaucratic, and over two-thirds (69 per cent) thought it was overly hierarchical. However, over half of all managers (56 per cent) perceived the civil service as having a cultural environment where diversity issues were taken seriously, and almost as many (51 per cent) thought men and women had the same chance of doing well within the civil service. Only around three in ten (29 per cent) agreed that career progression was uneven for everyone.
On the negative side, over half (51 per cent) of all managers saw the civil service as an impersonal place to work and only nine per cent thought that it had a creative working environment. There were differences between the following groups of managers:
The profile of the achieved sample of the attitude survey that was carried out as part of this research project showed that it broadly represented the actual profile of the managerial population within the 2001 Census data for corporate managers in public administration. The data indicate that ethnic minority managers and women are clearly under-represented in more senior managerial roles, although the results do not seem to be conclusive on the profile of those with a long-term health condition or disability. Part of the difficulty with disability status is that data sources use different definitions of ‘disability’, although most ask about whether or not individuals have a registered disability. This attitude survey relied on managers’ own definitions as to whether or not they had a long-term health condition or disability that affected their day-to-day living. After methodological inconsistencies are taken into consideration, the survey data provided a representative sample of managers with a disability, which was used with confidence to draw conclusions from.
In order to put the results of the attitude survey into a contextual background, the 2001 Census data was used to construct statistical models to examine what factors influenced someone becoming a corporate manager or a corporate manager within public administration. Overall, the findings of the first model displayed that being male, a graduate, white, a commuter, without children, without caring responsibilities and aged 45 and above makes one significantly more likely to be a corporate manager, and in that order. The second model with the relevant data for becoming a corporate manager within public administration showed similar findings to the first model, in that being female, non-white, not commuting, with dependent children and care responsibilities makes one significantly less likely to be a corporate manager within public administration, and in that order.
Taken altogether, the findings of the census data indicate that there seems to be a historical bias towards women and those from ethnic minorities which puts them in a disadvantaged position within the managerial population of public administration organisations in general. The detailed analyses of the survey data provided some additional information on various aspects of perceived employment and career prospects of managers across the survey, and also between different groups of managers within the data. The results of the sub-group analyses indicated significant variations between groups of managers in terms of attitudes, job search behaviours and personal ambitions. These findings will offer some practical explanations for the existing trends within the recruitment field when targeting certain managerial groups. For example, the findings confirm that using online advertising as a recruitment strategy to attract senior potential candidates from minority ethnic groups would be as effective as it would with white candidates.
Furthermore, the results of the survey showed that potential managers from under-represented groups (women, those with a disability, and those from ethnic minorities) were more likely to consider working in the civil service. This finding indicates that the availability of potential candidates may not be the main issue when dealing with recruitment from under-represented groups. It may be more about how to change the perceptions about certain aspects of the working culture within the civil service. The findings displayed higher proportions of managers from under-represented groups perceiving the civil service as having an organisational culture where access to progression was unequal for different groups.
Recruitment of Under-Represented Groups into the Senior Civil Service, Hooker H, Jagger N, Baldwin S. Research Report DWPRR 512, Department for Work and Pensions, 2008.
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