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‘Use affirmative action to get black people top positions'

TRIBUNAL: A landmark ruling found that PC Carol Howard was discriminated against for being a black woman

DIVERSITY ADVOCATES are agitating for quotas and affirmative action to address blatant inequalities that exist in public service leadership.

This follows initiatives by the police and the NHS to tackle the lack of diversity in their sectors.

The police have, in the last month, announced a new code of ethics, which includes principles of conduct such as honesty, integrity, respect, courtesy and valuing equality and diversity.

The new code follows a landmark ruling in the case of PC Carol Howard who last month won a tribunal against the Met on grounds that she was discriminated against for race and gender. The National Black Police Association (NBPA) described the move as an “important milestone”.

It said in a statement that it “welcomes the introduction of the Code of Ethics and the guidance, clarity and support it provides for those who work in policing.”

But Janet Hills, chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA), said it was not enough to create a code of ethics without strong action to ensure change.

 She told The Voice: “Currently there is no race or diversity agenda in the Met. When you look at restructuring in the service, which was done in response to austerity measures, there is nothing that actually stands out to say that we value diversity and race. It is left to bodies like the NBPA and the MetBPA and other staff support associations to be able to drive the equalities and diversity aspect of the organisation and ensure the code is embedded into practice and effecting visible equality across the force.”

However, equalities activist Patrick Vernon, believes the only solution to the problem is affirmative action, which would guarantee opportunities for black and ethnic minorities in public service leadership.

WEAK: Patrick Vernon says that diversity measures not enough to effect real change in public service leadership

Vernon branded previous measures such as mentoring schemes “ineffective” and “weak”.  

Vernon said: “There have been attempts over the last 10 to 20 years to address the inequalities in the NHS.

Programmes such as mentoring schemes and pledges by senior managers have been plenty, but what has happened in reality is that, in the last ten years, it has gone backwards - less ethnic minority senior managers and more black nurses being disciplined.” 

He added: “There has been an informal affirmative action in the NHS and other public institutions, but it has been for the benefit of white males only. This is evident when you look at senior management across the public service - including the BBC, the NHS and all those public institutions that we pay for with our taxes.

“They do not reflect our society and communities because ethnic minorities have been excluded.”

Vernon was adamant a new approach was needed. He said: “We now need clear regulatory action which includes targets, quotas which can be continuously monitored to ensure they are delivering real change.”

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