EFFORTS by councils in East Surrey to promote gender equality have been praised after figures showed more than four in ten managers in the area are women.
Surrey County Council has the highest percentage of female employees and managers, with more than 73 per cent of its 10,936 non-school workforce being women, along with more than 65 per cent of its 1,843 managers.
According to the figures, obtained by the Advertiser through a Freedom of Information request, the average percentage of female staff in East Surrey councils – Surrey County Council, Mole Valley District Council, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Tandridge District Council – is 55.6 per cent, with 42.7 per cent of managers being female.
Mole Valley District Council has the highest percentage of female employees outside the county council – 52.7 per cent of staff and 37.8 per cent of managers.
Leader Chris Townsend said the authority prided itself on being an inclusive organisation, adding: "There are no barriers to talent moving up or within the organisation and MVDC focuses on diversity in the fullest sense, responding to the needs of the individual, whatever they may be.
"It is no surprise that this is reflected in statistics that show a high degree of female managers. Half of the established senior management team are female, including the chief executive, Yvonne Rees. Ms Rees role models and leads a culture that is warm and vibrant."
Gender equality, especially in politics, has become a major issue nationally with David Cameron's latest reshuffle being described as an effort to tempt female voters by promoting women into senior roles.
Hazel Watson, Lib Dem opposition leader on the county council, said the figures made for encouraging reading.
"The percentage of women employed by the county council is very positive," she said.
"In particular the number of women employed in a management capacity. I think it's important the organisation's staff and management reflect the population of Surrey so it can better understand the needs of residents.
"It sets a good example for other authorities to follow and it's pleasing that women can advance to senior positions."