Increasing diversity in public appointments

Project status Completed

In early 2020 the Welsh Government released ‘Reflecting Wales in Running Wales’ (Welsh Government, 2020), its strategy for increasing diversity in public appointments in Wales.

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip asked the Wales Centre for Public Policy to support the implementation of the strategy through two projects:

  • A rapid evidence review of recruitment practices to increase diversity in public appointments; and
  • An expert roundtable to understand how ‘near miss’ candidates (those who apply for positions but are not appointed) and potential candidates from under-represented groups can be better supported to apply successfully for public appointments.

Around 100 appointments each year are made by or on behalf of Welsh Government ministers to the boards of over 54 public bodies. The vision behind the strategy is that the boards of these public bodies reflect the range of demographics and protected characteristics of people in Wales. The strategy has five goals:

  1. To gather and share data;
  2. To build a community of individuals who are interested, aware and nearly ready for board membership;
  3. To secure open and transparent recruitment practices;
  4. To ‘get boards on board’; and
  5. To strengthen leadership.

In particular, the Welsh Government is interested in how Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates and disabled candidates can be better supported to apply and be successful in public appointments. These groups are currently underrepresented on boards in Wales.

Our rapid review of evidence on recruitment and our expert roundtable found that there are significant challenges in the current public appointments system that make it difficult for disabled and ethnic minority candidates to apply for board positions, despite there being many who are already ‘board ready’. Recruitment processes can be improved with a wider recognition of what kind of experience candidates need in order to serve, alternative interview techniques, transparent selection processes, and constructive feedback mechanisms.  Initiatives which can facilitate access to board positions for potential candidates include mentoring and coaching programmes, board shadowing and observation opportunities, peer support and exposure to role models. New recruitment processes and support programmes should be tailored to specific groups and recognise how inequalities intersect.