London Fire Brigade Experiences Sharp Decline in Recruitment of Women and Minorities

Credits: March Air Reserve Base

New data released on Thursday revealed a significant decline in the recruitment of women and ethnic minorities by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in 2023, despite growing calls for greater diversity within the service.

According to the data disclosed by the Liberal Democrats, only 11 percent of new recruits in 2023 were female, with just 13 percent coming from black, Asian, and underrepresented communities.

This marks a stark decrease compared to 2021 when 31 percent of recruits were women and 35 percent hailed from these communities. The decline is particularly alarming considering that the percentage of female recruits is now lower than it was five years ago.

London Fire Brigade (Credits: HR Magazine)

In terms of minority representation, only 39 individuals from minority groups were recruited last year, in stark contrast to the 212 white recruits.

This is a significant drop from 2022 when 56 individuals from minority communities were employed. In 2020, minority representation was at its peak, accounting for 31.2 percent of new hires.

The Liberal Democrats have expressed concern over this downward trend, suggesting that it indicates insufficient efforts to ensure that the London Fire Brigade reflects the diversity of the city it serves.

They warned that if left unchecked, this regression could undermine the progress made towards creating a more inclusive workplace.

Calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to prioritize efforts to reform the LFB, the Liberal Democrats have urged for increased funding and support for apprenticeships and recruitment initiatives.

London Fire Brigade (Credits: City of Corvallis)

Hina Bokhari, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and Fire Spokesperson, commented, “This data is extremely disappointing and shows that the London Fire Brigade has actually gone backwards in the last year when it comes to increasing diversity in the service.

London is one of the world’s most diverse cities and public services need to better represent the communities they serve.” Bokhari emphasized the need for a focused effort to address the challenges faced by the LFB, particularly in light of the institutionally misogynist and racist culture revealed in an independent cultural review led by Nazir Afzal in 2022.

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