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July 20, 2008

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Helen

I was intruiged by his comment about "a narrower set of skills". Does that mean he expects people at "the top" to be skilled at avoiding answering direct questions but be devoid of the ability to answer a telephone or use a keyboard?

angela

Surely fair play for women means letting them compete on equal terms with men? Tim Parker just wants the best qualified person for the job. I cannot believe that so many people seem to think it is OK to defer to women and make allowances to women because of their sex. To me this is insulting.

WG Graceless

Surely either way, what the Guardian wrote was wrong and verging on libelous?

Given the vitriol vented by the Grauniad on the Evening Standard when it published hearsay and rumour about Livingstone, surely there ought to be some admission of hypocrisy?

votedforken

Actions speak a lot louder than words.

Pointing to the coverage of Tim Parker's comments on women at the GLA, Dave Hill, asks readers to decide whether Mr Parker is committed to women's equality or whether its just 'warm words'. On the evidence, it's neither.

As Dave reports, Tim Parker says, in the latest edition of the GLA staff magazine 'The Scoop', 'nothing would make me happier than to be able to boast a top team which was much more diverse. But as the skills requirements for a post get more demanding the narrower the field of expertise and the less people there are to choose from. Ideally we don't want to end up with a disproportionate representation of old white guys like me but the most critical determinant must be to select the best person for the role.' http://davehill.typepad.com/london3ms/2008/07/tim-parker-on-w.html

Many readers will be able to decipher right away. For others, note the word 'ideally' when attached to the hope of avoiding under-representation of women.

However, far better than trying to decode test, why not look at the record of Boris Johnson's administration in his short time in office? There has already been a stunning drop in the proportion of women employed at senior levels. In every case at the most senior level in the GLA where a post was held by a woman under Ken Livingstone they have been replaced by a man, or the post abolished, under Boris Johnson. This was the case with the statutory Deputy Mayor (Richard Barnes replaced Nicky Gavron), the head of the Fire and Emergency Planning services (LFEPA, Brian Coleman replaced Val Shawcross), the chair of the London Development Agency (LDA, Harvey McGrath replaced Mary Reilly), the Director of Media and Marketing (Guto Harri replaced Joy Johnson), and the Director of Strategic Projects and Performance (held by Murzinline Parchment - post abolished). Ken Livingstone has set all these issues out in greater detail here:
http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/Ken-Livingstone-Boris-Johnsons-Administration-Women-in-London-article_id-1712.html

Going one level in seniority further down, four senior posts held by women were abolished - the mayoral advisers on Culture and Events, on Women, on Creative Industries, and on Planning. Only one woman at this level, on Culture, was appointed by Boris Johnson. Actions speak far louder than any words – and this is what has actually happened. It's surprising that there has not been more criticism of this in the media, although Mayorwatch and this blog have done so and credit where it's due to the Guardian women's page for raising it.

Tim Parker says they are appointing the 'best' candidates for the job – and then women are not appointed. So the only conclusion that can be drawn is that there are no women with the skills and merit. In the whole of London? As opposed to the kind of women that were doing these jobs before? Does Parker really not understand what he is saying? It's grotesquely sexist.

Mace

Livingstone had no problem in findingf women, black people and other to fill senior positions. The GLA was the most divesre administration in the UK. Parker boast's about the GLA having attained level 5 of the Local Government Equality Standard, one of only three public sector organisations to do so. this was achieved by Livingstone and funnily enough his Equality Adviser Lee Jasper. I think we are witbessing the the testosterone whitening of the GLA. Parker comments are correct the higher the position the smaller the pool of potential candidates. There is no ' tension' between senior positions and diversity. There are plenty of women and black people as well as others who have the neccesary skills particulary in the public sector to fill senior positions . This is a not very sophisicated articulation by Parker expressing the priority and importance of equalities to this administration.

The reality is restricting the diversity of senior management teams means that real talent is locked out. London needs a GLA that looks like London not the City of London.

Tom

"There is no ' tension' between senior positions and diversity. There are plenty of women and black people as well as others who have the neccesary skills particulary in the public sector to fill senior positions ."

There aren't when you add in the stipulation 'Must be a member of the Conservative Party, Policy Exchange or preferably both'. Oddly enough, the PX bigots have never been notably concerned with making sure they represent the British population, only that they entrench themselves in positions of real, unaccountable power as soon as possible, thanks.

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