There are not enough women and people from BAME backgrounds in top positions at Richmond and Wandsworth councils, according to a new report.

At last week’s shared staffing committee (February 26) councillors heard that the councils would have to make “long-term and concerted efforts” to see more diverse candidates in their top jobs.

But officers admitted it was “a really tough nut to crack” due to the small size of the cohort, which can easily be affected by small changes.

Nevertheless, Richmond Conservative councillor, Aphra Brandreth, called for more to be done to tackle the issue and for an evaluation of programmes aimed at recruiting a more diverse workforce.

“The trends go on for over 10 years,” she said.

“I appreciate it’s a small population we are looking at, but for 10 years to be consistently below, that highlights it as an issue.”

According to the report, just under 40 per cent of the top five per cent of earners at Wandsworth and Richmond Councils are women, compared to the London average of 52.5 per cent.

Likewise, less than 12.5 per cent of the top five per cent of earners are BAME compared to approximately 17.5 per cent across London.

Officers said they are in the final stages of a leadership development programme “softly” targeted at female and BAME employees, and are moving towards candidate blind recruitment, where shortlisting managers don’t know anything about a candidate’s ethnicity, age, or name.

The report also showed that the shared staffing agreement between the councils had seen staff halved from roughly 6,000 in 2010 to just over 3,000 today.

The shared arrangement has resulted in savings to the two councils of £60 million to date.

But opposition leader for Wandsworth, Labour’s Simon Hogg, suggested that the resulting increased use of agency staff had an effect on the cohesion of teams and sickness levels, but Chief Executive for both Wandsworth and Richmond councils Paul Martin dismissed this as “correlation not causation.”