Whitehall bosses facing allegations of ‘racism’ and ‘institutional bias’ as civil service union claims white staff are twice as likely to be promoted than non-white colleagues
- Mark Serwotka, head of the PCS union, sends damning letter to Cabinet Office
Civil service bosses are facing allegations of ‘racism’ and ‘institutional bias’ amid claims white staff are twice as likely to be promoted than non-white colleagues.
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, compared Whitehall to the scandal-plagued Metropolitan Police in its treatment of non-white employees.
In a letter to Alex Chisholm, the top official at the Cabinet Office, the union leader accused him of overseeing a ‘wholly broken system’ in civil service recruitment.
Mr Serwotka, whose union represents around 190,000 civil servants, also claimed racism ‘remains a major issue’ in Mr Chisholm’s department.
‘Certainly the data we have analysed shows a consistent pattern over the 14 months of staff recorded as white being twice as likely to be successfully promoted as staff recorded as non-white; with the figure for those recorded as black being even worse,’ Mr Serwotka said in the letter, seen by The Times.
‘The service, along with organisations such as the Metropolitan Police resist the notion that it is institutionally biased.
‘However, if the differences in promotion rates are not driven by racism, what is the explanation?
‘If you cannot provide a plausible alternative explanation, then the civil service must admit there is bias in the system.’
Whitehall bosses are facing allegations of ‘racism’ and ‘institutional bias’ amid claims white civil servants are twice as likely to be promoted than non-white colleagues
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, compared Whitehall to the scandal-plagued Metropolitan Police in its treatment of non-white employees
Last year, leaked details of an internal review into discrimination at the Cabinet Office showed one in 10 people – equivalent to around 1,000 members of staff – suffered from bullying, harassment or discrimination.
This included non-white civil servants feeling alienated, or suffering from ‘microaggressions’ such as being mistaken for a colleague of the same ethnicity.
The document also found that alleged perpetrators ‘rarely face disciplinary action’ and are instead moved – or even promoted – to another Whitehall department.
Under a Freedom of Information request, it was revealed how the Cabinet Office spent £290,585 of taxpayers’ cash – not including legal costs – settling 10 cases of either race or disability discrimination over the past five years.
The leaked review detailed how non-white workers felt they had to ‘work harder to be respected and understood’.
‘We have to be a certain way in order for people around us to perceive us as being just as valid as someone who went to Oxbridge,’ one staff member said.
It was reported how the review found the Cabinet Office is dominated by people with a ‘posh London’ accent to make others feel like outsiders.
The Cabinet Office refused to make the full findings public but said it accepted the report’s recommendations and would be ‘implementing them in full’.
In response to Mr Serwotka’s letter, a Government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to ensuring that the civil service reflects the country it serves at all levels.
‘We’ve already seen a significant rise in representation of different backgrounds and locations, with the representation of ethnic minority civil servants at a record high.
‘We are not complacent and continue to make reforms to how the civil service recruits and promotes talent to raise representation at the most senior levels, for example – a record quarter of all Fast Stream applicants came from an ethnic minority background last year.’
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