PRESS RELEASE: Job sharing could improve diversity in Welsh politics

Wednesday May 18th, 2022

This month’s elections showed that while women’s representation has increased since the 2017 local elections, we still have a long way to go to achieve gender balance in Welsh politics – just 36% of the elected councillors are women. Positive action is needed to ensure diverse and equal representation that reflects Welsh society. New research from Women’s Equality Network Wales and Electoral Reform Society Cymru reveals that job sharing is a measure that could be implemented in the Senedd to improve diversity and achieve better outcomes for constituents.

We welcome the announcement from Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru on gender quotas as part of Senedd reform, as quotas are the single most effective tool for increasing women’s representation – but they are no silver bullet and need to be part of wider toolkit to address the different obstacles women and other underrepresented groups face in politics. Job-sharing is another key tool for improving diversity as it can lower barriers for women, disabled candidates, and other underrepresented groups facing barriers to election.

For constituents, job-sharing could deliver “two for the price of one” in terms of skills and experience and could enable members to retain better connections to their life outside the Senedd which can be relevant to scrutiny and representative work.

Previous reports from the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform and the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform have explored and supported job sharing in politics. The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has identified job-sharing as one of the simple changes public bodies can make to further the well-being goal A More Equal Wales. This is because job sharing could encourage a more diverse range of people to enter politics, thereby increasing political representation for women, disabled candidates, and other underrepresented groups facing barriers to election.

Politicians with experience in job-sharing or diversity and equality have echoed these points, also suggesting that job-sharing can provide mentoring opportunities that enable candidates from underrepresented groups to progress into senior roles.

According to academic experts Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs, job-sharing candidates should stand as a joint candidate with priorities, goals and working arrangements agreed prior to selection. They should be elected jointly through a single, shared vote to retain jobsharers as a “single legal entity” as one joint candidate on the election paper.

Support for job sharing in politics jumps by 11% to 48% once those polled understood the key benefits. This suggests that any future legislation on job-sharing in the Senedd can gather wide public support if the rationale and benefits of such a proposal are communicated clearly and transparently.

New ideas for future electoral processes are currently being considered as part of Stage 2 of the Senedd reform process. WEN Wales recommends:

  • The Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform should make a policy recommendation to the Welsh Government for a change in legislation that permits job-sharing candidates in the next Senedd election, which could be explored as the reform bill is being prepared.
  • Encourage executive job-sharing in local government to be used by a wide range of elected members, not only women.


Dr Jessica Laimann, Policy & Public Affairs Officer at WEN Wales said: “The increase in women’s representation by 8% following the local elections marks an important step forward. But we still have a long way to go and urgently need to explore all avenues to increase diversity in Welsh politics. Job-sharing has already been successfully used in some council cabinets, and using it more widely across all levels of government in Wales could have a big impact. This research clearly shows that job-sharing can be an important lever to help achieve political representation that reflects our diverse population, and thus strengthen our democracy.”

Bethan Sayed, researcher and former Member of the Senedd, said: “’Job-share options for politicians should be part of the fundamental discussion as to how we create a Senedd that is truly forward thinking, flexible and fit for the 21st Century. This is a discussion about getting new people into politics, with new ideas. It’s about how we work in a different way by sharing responsibilities and tasks. It’s about breaking down barriers to those who wouldn’t dream of entering politics otherwise. It’s about making the Senedd the true voice of the people of Wales.”

Job-sharing for Senedd Members: the full briefing can be read here.