HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 c70W
Mr. Crausby

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of the total work force in his Department is of ethnic minority origin; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of people from the ethnic minorities in his Department. [102728]

Mr. Bayley

Existing data indicate that 5.83 per cent. of employees in the Department are of minority ethnic origin.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office set out in his reply of 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 264W, corporate action that we are taking to encourage the employment of people from minority ethnic groups. This Department aspires to improve the diversity of its work force at every level and has put in place a range of measures specifically to encourage the employment of people with minority ethnic backgrounds and address current under-representation, particularly at senior levels.

In addition to our plans to improve in the area of recruitment, we have a number of initiatives for developing the talent already in the Department. We are committed to achieving our goals by setting realistic but stretching targets by 31 March 2000 which will be underpinned by action plans encompassing imaginative outreach and positive action initiatives. Some specific examples are: working closely with the Employment Services to gain better understanding of the barriers restricting people from minority ethnic groups from applying for jobs; liaising with ethnic groups and ethnic community leaders to identify the scope of potential recruitment candidates and work towards breaking down perceived barriers. Producing equal opportunities policy statements in different languages has assisted in this respect; targeting schools and universities with a high percentage of minority ethnic students; taking part in careers fairs to attract minority ethnic undergraduates who may be suitable for fast stream development; participating in the Windsor Fellowship Scheme, which is run by an educational trust to introduce minority ethnic undergraduates as student placements to prepare them for management careers; working with organisations to offer its managers as mentors to minority ethnic students (in 1999, a BA manager was voted Mentor of the Year by the NMC).