SOLACE Summit: Miller vows to ‘champion women’ as president

By Thomas Bridge | 12 October 2016

Jo Miller has vowed to ‘champion women’ and ‘unlock’ council talent as she takes on the role of president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE).

Speaking at the SOLACE Summit in Newcastle Gateshead, the Doncaster MBC chief executive said she felt a ‘real responsibility’ to ensure local government staff and the communities they serve ‘are enabled to be the best they can be’.

Ms Miller said: ‘We mustn’t lose, as we go through our delayering and reconstructing, the ability for talent to rise through the ranks of our own workforce. As public services, as public service leaders, we can and should influence that.’

Describing herself and Doncaster’s mayor as ‘Northern Power Women’, she said ‘all male panels and all male consultations’ were ‘not going to happen’ in her time as SOLACE president.

Ms Miller said vowed to ‘champion women’ in the role, but warned female leaders they ‘couldn’t moan we don’t get the opportunity to be heard if we don’t seize that opportunity when it’s offered’.

She said the EU referendum and policy changes under Theresa May’s new government meant local government was ‘standing at a crossroads’.

‘Our challenge in our places as public servants and leaders is to shape public service reform, to ensure good economic growth – inclusive growth where people aren’t left behind,’ Ms Miller said.

She said SOLACE now needed to ‘work with Government to influence, advise and challenge them… because we know and understand the practical ramifications of policy’.

She paid tribute to past president Mark Rogers, praising the Birmingham City Council chief executive’s ‘outstanding’ work in the role.

‘He has been an exemplar president for three years, focussing on values based leadership, and, as he put it brilliantly in The MJ, “being people people, for people”.’

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