Tag Archives: council candidates

Building more diverse council groups

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook and heard questions at Lib Dem socials about how to recruit more women and diverse candidates for council elections. There seems to be a real willingness to do it but not always a clear idea of how. Here are my three top tips – I’d be interested in what others have done.

  1. SET TARGETS. Look at the demographics of your area and propose that your local party Exec or campaign team buy into the idea of taking some action and agreeing targets. You could decide that 50% of target council seats will be held by women; and/or 50% of all council seats. You can adopt targets for BAME /LGBT+ and people with disabilities too. Telling potential council candidates that you are taking positive steps to better reflect the local community you want to serve is a very strong recruitment message.
  2. TARGETED RECRUITMENT. Filter your ‘strong Lib Dem’ data on Connect by gender, and approach the women on the list first – of course you need to have a conversation to check that they really do ‘live our values.’ Look at the local residents’ associations, Parish Councillors, and residents who are vocal on local Facebook forums etc, and those who are involved in civic campaigns that overlap with our values (for example local Amnesty groups, Transition Towns etc), identify the people you know to be from under-represented groups and cross-check them with your canvass data, or go and canvass them.
  3. DON’T PUSH FOR AN IMMEDIATE ANSWER. For all sorts of reasons, men are more likely to say ‘yes’ to standing or even put themselves forward without being asked. Statistically, women are more likely to be care-givers (for children and/or ageing parents), and women and people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to be in lower-paid jobs (which can require night-shifts / unusual hours) so unless they immediately rule it out (and by this I mean they say “no way, not a chance, never”), their thinking might jump ahead to ‘how can I fit it all in?’ They are also more likely to want to discuss the idea with friends and family to gauge their reaction too. In short, you may have to ask, then give them a few days to think about it, offer to give them the chance to speak to someone with similar circumstances and agree to give them a follow up call a few days later. Even inviting them out for a ‘taster session’ of door knocking. You’ll need to be prepared to change campaign sessions around their lives. If there’s no-one in your area with similar circumstances, you can post on here and I expect someone will volunteer to speak to them.

It does require more effort but consider it an investment of time that will help you find under-used talent. I’ve been part of a team that has done this and just this year we found two brilliant new by-election candidates who gave it everything.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments
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