I was interested to see in an article in the Housing press, that there is a thought that BME middle managers lose out in restructuring. If they can get into middle management in the first place, what is happening in the internal competitions? The implication of the article is that the sector is not giving these candidates fair treatment. The article then goes on to talk about the lack of BME representation in the top 50 most influential people in housing.
As the top 50 was dominated by politicians the two issues should surely not be conflated. The politicians and civil servants (David Cameron, Mervyn King, Eric Pickles, Iain Duncan Smith, Fiona Reynolds) in the list are actually in housing more by chance than choice and owe the sector nothing for their elevation to senior levels of influence in policy making.
I am not disputing the veracity of either piece of research but suggest that the two issues should be tackled separately. In the case of internal re-structures, I really believe that organisations need to do much more to take ‘the luck of the day’ out of their re-organisation procedures. Just because Tribunals accept interview processes as fair does not mean they are the best way to choose managers. We all know that interviews favour the extroverts and the articulate. They favour those that are well versed in the art of being interviewed. For that reason I deliver ‘selection preparation’ training sessions for staff, either in groups or one to one. I advocate objective testing and line manager’s references. And I advocate that all these sources are given equal weighting in the selection decision by an independent panel.
And if the sector is concerned that BME candidates are failing in these processes, use the powers of positive action to make sure that those candidates are given additional training and coaching to get through the selection process. If they can improve their interview skills we may see more people get through the selection process to be an MP and onto that list of influencers in housing.