Report of the Director of Corporate HR.
The Committee considered a report of the Chief People Officer outlining the proposed process for the recruitment to the Town Clerk & Chief Executive post.
The Chief People Officer highlighted that the report contained a schedule for the recruitment timetable as well as details of an Assessment Centre process and the Interview Panel composition. It was reported that the Job Description and Person Specification had been revised in consultation with Members with the report requesting that any further, minor changes that may be required be delegated to Officers. It was confirmed that the advert for this position was now live and had been advertised across a number of different medium including print media and also online. It was reported that the advert had already generated a lot of interest to date.
An Alderman questioned the make up of the proposed Interview Panel and the diversity of this. The Chief People Officer commented that the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-Committee representative was still yet to be appointed but was of the view that the Panel was diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity. She highlighted that she would also be in attendance at these interviews. The Alderman questioned whether those Chairman on the Panel were able to appoint a representative from their respective Committees to further diversify the Panel make up. The Chief People Officer stated that she would be happy to take this forward as a suggestion but that the decision would be at the Chairmens’ discretion.
Another Aldermen recognised that the report set out the disadvantages of not having a final decision taken on the appointment until the Court of Common Council meeting in December 2022. He highlighted that there was a date in diaries for an informal meeting of the Court in November and questioned whether a formal meeting might be held immediately before this for the sole purpose of confirming the appointment of the Town Clerk and Chief Executive, thereby expediting the process by four weeks, recognising that most applicants were likely to have a notice period of at least three months. Secondly, the Aldermen stated that, historically, when Chief Officers had been appointed by the Court of Common Council, there had been scope for questions from Members. He questioned whether it might therefore be possible for Members to write in to the Lord Mayor of Chief People Officer with any questions which they might like to pose to the applicant in public session. This would allow for any inappropriate questions to be screened ahead of the meeting and also allow for any duplication to be offset. The Chief People Officer commented that, with regard to the timetable, it was recognised that an appointment on 8 December was relatively late in the day but highlighted that she had taken advice on this. That being said, she stated that she would be happy to seek further advice on this and the proposal to hold a formal meeting on 10 November for this purpose. She also undertook to seek advice as to the possibility of Members posing questions of the applicant at the Court of Common Council meeting.
An Alderman commented on the Job Description and questioned why there was not greater prominence of risk management/mitigation experience given the complexity of the Corporation. He added that he felt that there should also be explicit reference to significant financial budget oversight and operating performance responsibility in the experience requirements. Finally, he suggested that it would also be helpful to see reference to the Corporation’s net zero aspirations and commercial property within the experience requirements.
An Alderman returned to the issue of diversity in terms of not only the Panel but also the application process more generally. He questioned whether factors such as the sexual orientation, mental/physical health and social mobility of candidates would also be captured and taken into account. The Chief People Officer reported that a tender process to select the headhunters being used for this process included very clear criteria around their approach to diversity and inclusion. Those selected had been able to cite a number of examples of their approach to this at short-listing and long-listing stage as well as at interview stage and on selection. She reported that they did adopt an approach where there was an equality, diversity and inclusion form to be completed by all candidates however it was emphasised that the provision of this information was voluntary. Where this data was provided by applicants, comprehensive profiling took place but this was anonymised in so far as possible. The Committee were informed that social mobility was also taken into consideration and that there were questions posed to draw out this type of information on candidates. Whilst the process would culminate in candidates appearing before a Member led Panel, it was highlighted that it also included a comprehensive Officer Assessment Centre which would be made up of a number of diverse Officers from across the organisation.
Another Alderman questioned whether those on the Member Panel and Officer Assessment Centre would receive training in diversity and inclusion. The Chief People Officer confirmed that she was currently in the process of arranging recruitment training for all which would also incorporate diversity and inclusion and would take place ahead of any assessment or interview process.
That the Committee:
· Agree to the recruitment timetable as outlined in this report;
· Agree to the Assessment Centre process as outlined in this report;
· Agree to the Interview Panel as outlined in this report;
· Agree the job description and person specification as attached to this report;
· Delegate minor changes to the Assessment Centre process and Interview Panel where necessary to the Chair and Deputy Chair of the proposed Interview Panel;
· Delegate minor changes to the Job Description and Person Specification where necessary to the Chair and Deputy Chair of the proposed Interview Panel