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WORK LIFE-HUNTERS SHOOT BACK

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Hamish Davidson, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says some headhunters are actively trying to help change attit...
Hamish Davidson, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says some headhunters are actively trying to help change attitudes
Rodney Brooke's column is often provocative. However, last Friday's edition broke the rule that comment is free, but facts are sacred. His reference to me and to PricewaterhouseCoopers is not only wrong, but suggests he is out-of-date.
Mr Brooke is wrong to suggest my team handled the recruitment of the head of personnel for the Greater London Authority - we did not. Similarly, his views on quality candidates being deterred by headhunters are incorrect.
I bow to no one in my commitment to genuine equal opportunities. My own team is more diverse than any other major recruitment consultancy and that is deliberate. We challenge any preconceptions our clients may have about the preferred background for candidates - be they in favour of males, against private-sector candidates, in favour of white people, or against those without a university degree.
We actively encourage applications from candidates with non-traditional backgrounds. This includes encouraging women and people from minority ethnic communities to apply for senior management posts.
Readers will recognise some of the stars appointed: Heather Rabbatts, Faith Boardman, Heather Du Quesnay, Althea Efunshile and Stella Manzie.
I am not sure what evidence Mr Brooke has for his assertion that admirable candidates will not apply if headhunters are engaged. We take the advertising of posts as seriously as we take the search and our search candidates are left in no doubt they are competing on their merits.
To state otherwise insults the intelligence of our clients, not to mention these hypothetical candidates who do not have the gumption to respond to the invitation in all our advertisements to have an informal chat with the consultant.
It seems Mr Brooke is unaware of the eight workshops a year we run for hundreds of aspiring senior managers each year. These are entirely free of charge and aimed at helping them to develop and market their skills.
We offer career counselling to unsuccessful candidates, and give feedback to the people we deal with to ensure the next application or interview is a better showcase for their talents.
We sponsored the research on the experience of women chief executives, much reported in LGC. We provided that sponsorship, and expert input to the steering group for the research, precisely because we are committed to diversity in local government.
The research findings showed both men and women believe that when recruitment consultants are involved in an appointment, women candidates stand a better chance of being appointed.
At the conference launching the research, Birmingham City Council chief executive Sir Michael Lyons and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives director general David Clark both paid tribute to our work. Sir Michael said PricewaterhouseCoopers deserves credit for working with organisations to challenge prejudices.
Maybe critics of headhunting should be asking whether some internal recruitment processes defeat equal opportunities. As for the supposed incident at SOCPO, I challenge Mr
Brooke or anyone else to find one of
our assignments where the search has not included women as sources and targets.
Hamish Davidson
Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers
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