AS I SEE IT: TERRY MURDEN says woke policies are being blamed for a lack of candidates applying for key Scottish government jobs
A month after I raised questions with the government about the vacant chair at Scottish Enterprise and the position of CEO at the “flagship” Scottish National Investment Bank I’ve received word from a former insider who tells me that the volume of red tape and woke policy diktats are putting off applicants.
The SE job remains unfilled since last August while the bank has been without a permanent successor to Eilidh Mactaggart for 12 months.
Conspiracy theorists might suggest a link between the two unfilled posts. Actually, there isn’t one, though Scottish Enterprise must be looking enviously at the £2 billion ten-year budget that the bank was given to do much the same job that it was doing before 2020.
The SE chair comes with a 10% salary hike on Lord Smith’s remuneration from £44,520 to £49,049 for 1.75 days per month, while the last bank chief was paid £348,047. So why is there is there so much trouble finding suitable candidates?
The source tells me that the process to apply for the SE board is “pretty tortuous” with candidates having to plough through voluminous forms and tick lots of boxes.
“Many serious heavyweight business people just aren’t prepared to do this. Strict diversity criteria need to be met and therefore good candidates often don’t bother to apply.
“There are cases where heavy hitters have been encouraged by either ministers or SE board members to apply for a senior public appointment only to be filtered out by the civil service.
“This has created enormous resentment within the business community.”
Over at the bank, the executive search team at US firm Spencer Stuart (fee: £175,000), who are looking its new CEO, were knocked back on a preferred candidate and had to start again.
This is not strictly a government appointment, though whoever is selected will clearly have to wear the same ready-made and sustainable SNP-Green suit. Based on the above criteria it may be a tight fit.
Terry Murden held senior positions at The Sunday Times, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and The Northern Echo and is now editor of Daily Business