More women than men in top jobs at council is a first

Council chief executive Sue Bruce is leading the way
Council chief executive Sue Bruce is leading the way
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More women than men are working in top jobs at the city council for the first time in the authority’s history.

New figures have revealed a radical turnaround in the number of female top earners at the council, less than a year after it recruited its first female chief executive, Sue Bruce.

It has been hailed as a “significant milestone” in the bid to bring about gender equality at the council.

Of the top 800 best-paid employees at the council, 56.2 per cent are women – compared with only 20 per cent seven years ago and 37.9 per cent last year.

But there are claims that inequality still exists between men and women further down in the organisation.

Emma Ritch, project manager of Close the Gap, a partnership group set up to raise awareness about the pay gap, said: “We have seen quite a lot of movement in diversity statistics within organisations that are restructuring as a result of pressure on public spending.

“We know that employee diversity leads to better delivery of services, as a wider range of ideas and experience is brought to the table.”

The new data has also revealed that 54 per cent of the top 300 highest earners at the council are women, compared to 38.9 per cent in 2010.

Mrs Bruce was appointed to the role of chief executive in January, on a salary of £158,553. However, she is known to strongly believe that everyone should only be in a position because of merit alone.

Another recent female appointment at the head of the council is Karen Kelly, who is head of financial services.

Councillor Angela Blacklock, equalities spokeswoman for the Labour group on the council, said: “It is a significant milestone for the council and hopefully it will drip down through the council and mean that more women are promoted to senior posts and get more opportunities.

“However, because of the small number of people within the highest paid groups, it only needs a couple of changes to make the figures look very good or very bad.

“I think we need to look at the whole organisation to see whether we have true gender equality.

“This is a good step forward and I do not want to take anything away from that but it can’t yet be said that we have gender equality throughout the council.”

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: “It is the council’s aspiration that the make-up of our staff is reflective of the local community and I am pleased to see a more equal balance in our senior management team.

“It is important to note that all of these women are where they are on their merit.”