Shabana Mahmood MP has signed Dawn Butler MP’s open letter to the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport about her decision to reject the appointment of the only person of colour out of the five Ofcom recommended candidates to the Channel 4 board. Ofcom is responsible for finding, vetting and appointing Channel 4 board members and it not usual for the Government to reject their proposals.
The letter states that the rejection will do nothing to improve diversity in the boardroom and called on the Secretary of State to provide her reasoning behind the decision as well as meet with a select group of cross-party parliamentarians to discuss their concerns.
You can see the letter on this page.
The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP has now responded to Dawn Butler's letter and the copy of the text is below.
Shabana commenting, said:
"I'm afraid that this is not good enough. There is still no proper explanation for why the Secretary of State in an unprecedented move rejected a candidate recommended by Ofcom, let alone a BAME candidate when the Government has said that it is intent on increasing diversity".
Karen Bradley's letter follows:
I am writing following your letter and David’s question at Prime Minister’s Questions on 30 November 2016, regarding the appointment of non-executives to the Channel 4 Corporation (C4C) board.
C4C non-executive directors are appointed by Ofcom and, under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 1990, must be approved by the Secretary of State. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to take a decision on whether to approve Ofcom's appointments for the Channel 4 Corporation board.
Ofcom’s recruitment sought four non-executive directors with the following specific skills and experiences:
*A background in, or experience of, finance, either as a current or recent CFO of an organisation at least the same size as Channel 4 and will be expected to become the Chairman of the Risk and Audit Committee of C4C.
*Current business experience ideally through being an incumbent CEO of a plc or organisation at least the same size as Channel 4.
*Experience of, and understanding of, digital media, particularly the development and exploitation of digital technology and its use by consumers.
*Experience of marketing ideally from within an organisation or agency and with a good knowledge of television advertising.
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on any individual application but as the PM confirmed all our appointments are made on selecting the best candidate based on their skills and experience to the specific advertised role description. We selected the best four candidates. Additional roles will come up on the C4C board covering other skill sets. There were high calibre candidates who were not selected through this round and I hope they will consider those future opportunities.
As you noted the Corporate Governance Green Paper was published this week. This sets out the importance of improving the diversity of boardrooms. This applies to the boards of public bodies as much as those of private sector companies. The Government is committed to ensuring diversity within public appointments. The Cabinet Office aspiration is for 50% of new appointments made by each Government Department to go to female candidates, and 10% to candidates from a BAME background. This target is also contained within the DCMS Departmental Plan, and DCMS, as with all other Government Departments, works to ensure that where possible the boards of their arms length bodies are constituted in a way that is representative of the population. In first two quarters of 2016/17, 50% of new DCMS appointments went to women and 18% to BAME candidates.
I am very grateful for your work to support diversity, particularly in our creative industries. I am in full agreement in the need to ensure our public institutions and appointments represent and reflect modern Britain. I do however firmly reject any suggestion that female or BAME candidates are treated unfairly in our public appointment decisions.