Monday, January 23, 2017

How it happened

The briefing note given to MPs about the process of selecting Sir David Clementi as BBC chairman demonstrates real concerns about diversity. Initially, there were only 19 applicants - two were women, and one identified themselves as BAME.

Here's the full note. (Out of interest, the media test - presumably a mock grilling - was conducted by Tracy Lee, one year researcher at Thames Talkback, on fashion show "She's Gotta Have It", six months a researcher on a quiz show at the BBC, and seven months a researcher at Sky Television, before a move to Civil Service PR).

The BBC Chair competition was launched on 26 October 2016 via BBC press release and advertised on the Cabinet Office Centre for Public Appointments website, the DCMS Connect website and by search consultants Odgers Berndtson. The closing date was 16 November 2016. 

The selection panel was made up of Sir Peter Spencer (Public Appointments Assessor), Sue Owen (DCMS Permanent Secretary), and two independent members, Lord Janvrin and Dame Colette Bowe.  
The panel met to sift candidates on 22 November 2016. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that 19 applications were received by the deadline. Two applicants declared they were female, one declared they were BAME. The panel was concerned by the lack of diversity and asked the search consultants to find more potential candidates in order to improve both the strength and diversity of the field. We share the panel’s concern on lack of diversity. Subsequently, DCMS also contacted a number of other people who were considered to have potential for the post. 

The search consultants proposed a grading for each candidate and presented their CVs and letter of application. The panel considered each candidate against the role and person specifications, agreed an initial shortlist of five candidates and undertook to assess late applications out of committee. Subsequently one late applicant was shortlisted and another person previously sifted out was reconsidered by the panel at the request of No 10 and added to the list. 

Each of the shortlisted candidates was interviewed by the search consultants to probe specific aspects of their CV and to give a fuller picture of their experience, skills sets and potential areas of weakness. 

Prior to final interview all seven short-listed candidates were given the opportunity to have a conversation with Lord Hall, Director General of the BBC and to receive a policy brief from Departmental officials. Each candidate was also given a media test, conducted by DCMS’s Head of News and Communications. Panel interviews were held on 12 and 14 December 2016. 

Following interview, three candidates were deemed ‘appointable’. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport met all three candidates on Tuesday 20 December 2016 in the presence of a nominated representative of the Public Appointments Assessor. Thereafter the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport made a recommendation to the Prime Minister that Sir David Clementi be confirmed as the preferred candidate for the role of BBC Chair.

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