12 November 2017

Lessons of Priti Patel’s resignation

Recent news of Priti Patel’s resignation as International Development Secretary leads me to ask the question: is there any lessons from the resignation and what can we learn from it?

Well to start with Senior Tory - Crispin Blunt stated that "Patel did not have a grounding in Ministerial Experience". Now, whilst she may have broken ministerial protocol, the question is, was she aware of the wrong she was doing? Did she have the necessary support in terms of mentoring and guidance within her role to give her the knowledge she needed?

In terms of overall political experience - Patel has been involved in politics for a while; she was appointed to William Hague’s press office during his Tory leadership however, she left politics for a career in public relations. She was unsuccessful in winning a seat during the 2005 election; however, she was regarded as a potential MP by former Prime Minister David Cameron and won the Witham constituency in Essex in 2010 election. In 2014, she was appointed as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and following the 2015 General Election, she was appointed as the new Minister for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions and then moving into her last post as International Development Secretary in July 2016, that to me seems like a fair amount of ‘grounding’.

Crispin Blunt also suggests that Patel was ‘accelerated’
to the Cabinet position because she was an ‘Asian representative in the Conservative party’. The Parker Review urges business leaders to better represent their employee base and the communities they serve through improving the ethnic and cultural diversity of UK Boards. Although this was implemented by the UK Government, it could be inferred that the requirement to bring more diversity to the Cabinet may have led to important training and mentoring to be overlooked.
Improved diversity in the workplace is something we can be proud of – businesses thrive on diverse experience and ideas from its workforce, but if people are not employed based on their skillset, which can be honed and nurtured, problems can arise. I’m unsure of Blunt’s allegation in the case of Priti Patel as she did have previous senior level experience in the industry however the actual allegation of ‘fast-tracking’ to her senior position in the Conservative party was described as a great asset for the party as she was an ‘advocate for the whole community representing the Tory party’ and her obvious enthusiasm for the role highlighted her capabilities. So, if this was the case, was this fast-tracking justified?

Something we can argue and possibly agree on is that although Patel was acting in what she believed to be in the best interest of the country, she failed to follow the correct protocol, something that may be down to a lack of mentoring and ongoing advice.

I think we can learn a lot from this. We need to recognise generally that there is so much value added to businesses that employ a diverse team, but we must provide the support to help them grow in their own capabilities, which will benefit the business as a whole.

If we were to look at the talent we have in our workplace, how can this talent be best nurtured and developed? Is there an effective mentoring programme in place? Are we aware of and honing the strengths and supporting the weaknesses within our workforce’s capabilities to ensure we have both a well-balanced, diverse and informed team?

In terms of the Parker Review recommendations, its generally understood the importance to promote diversity in the workplace allowing organisations to better connect with their customers and also to increase the bottom line, as well it being the right thing to however how does one mitigate and reduce the chances of it going all wrong and accusations of “fast-tracking” for diversity and targets and cultivating the right people

I’d be interested to hear your views below, or tweet @SafarazAli.

Kind regards,


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