In football, the “Rooney rule” doesn’t say if Wayne Rooney scores England will win; in fact, it is nothing to do with the Manchester United footballer. The “Rooney rule” is being transferred from American football to English soccer to require football clubs with a management vacancy to include suitably qualified black candidates on their short list.
‘Some organisations have extended the balanced interview panel to include race. Why not adopt the “Rooney rule” in the public sector?’
In effect it is an interview guarantee scheme. And it works. Ten years ago there were no black coaches managing NFL teams in the US despite the high proportion of black players. By 2007, the Super Bowl was contested between two teams with black head coaches.
On the 20th anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence it seems appropriate to review if anything has changed. While there is evidence of general progress and change in attitudes it is still the case that black people are underrepresented in senior positions in many industries. Whether we are talking about football managers or public sector senior managers, black people continue to be underrepresented.
Clearly there is still a problem. If we want to ensure that we are not in the same position in another 20 years then radical solutions need to be tried. No public sector organisation would in have an all-male interview panel now, when 70 per cent of the staff working in the public sector are female, would they?
The concept of a balanced interview panel in terms of gender is established. Many organisations operate a guaranteed interview scheme for suitably qualified people with a disability. Some organisations have extended the balanced interview panel to include race. Why not adopt the “Rooney rule” in the public sector and have a balance short list; a guaranteed interview scheme for suitably qualified and experience black managers?
One way to mark this sad anniversary would be to show thinking has changed in the way we recruit people in the public sector.