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Civil Service

An objective point of view…

Sue Owen, Permanent Secretary for DCMS, Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Champion and Civil Service LGB&T Champion
Sue Owen, Permanent Secretary for DCMS, Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Champion and Civil Service LGB&T Champion

This week the Civil Service is taking part in National Inclusion Week so it is fitting that all departmental Permanent Secretaries are publishing our diversity and inclusion objectives today, outlining our priorities for the year ahead.

The objectives set out the priorities for each department, as well as capturing priorities for those of us who play a cross-Government role on diversity. For example, my own objectives include my priorities for DCMS, as well as for the Civil Service as a whole - reflecting my roles as Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Champion and Civil Service LGB&T Champion. All of our objectives have clear measures so that we can be held accountable by Sir Jeremy Heywood, Head of the Civil Service, for their delivery.

Embedding our commitment to diversity

Whilst we’ve had objectives in the past, this is the first time that our commitment to diversity has been so strongly embedded in them and I am really proud of this. We now have a solid programme for delivering the changes required - the Removing Barriers to Success programme - coordinated at the centre by a dedicated Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Team, underpinned by research, with a robust governance structure. But, ultimately, we really need to change behaviours if we are to succeed in making sure we truly value difference and all our people feel genuinely included.

Jon Thompson wrote earlier this week about his new role as Social Mobility Champion. At the moment we have limited data on the social background of our workforce so are unable to set measurable objectives for this year as we have with other priorities. But understanding and improving the social make-up of our workforce is vital to ensuring the Civil Service reflects the public we serve. So from 2016/17 all Permanent Secretaries will add an objective on social mobility that will be informed by the research currently underway.

Introducing our expert advisers

As well as being more transparent about our objectives,  this week we have also appointed four expert advisers. In appointing Karen Blackett, Helena Morrissey, Lord Holmes and Stephen Frost we are sending a clear signal that we are facing up to the challenge of improving our diversity. We are working towards becoming the most inclusive employer in the country and the expert advisors will help scrutinise some of the long standing issues we have and assist us in meeting our aspirations.

When announcing the expert advisers, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock, was keen to emphasise the importance of this to running the country effectively too:

Improving levels of diversity and inclusion is not simply important for the role of the Civil Service as an employer, but also in the development of policy and in the delivery of more effective and efficient services.

I completely agree with this, and together with my Permanent Secretary colleagues, will be working to remove any barriers that stop talented people from succeeding. We want a Civil Service that is a truly inclusive organisation, and one that is representative of modern Britain.

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  1. Comment by jill posted on

    so many words but will it translate into something that managers and staff understand and implement or will it simply look a pretty document on the shelf (with all the previous dusty one already there)
    I am happy to be convinced otherwise but I know where my money is.................

  2. Comment by Terry posted on

    I would be a nice change to have a civil service blog news email that doesn't try and shove diversity, quotas and so on down your throat. Just for once, please.

  3. Comment by Mark Mavin posted on

    As a middle aged white male - should i just get my coat? Nothing I read on inclusion and Diversity ever includes me. There are no Development schemes, training courses, mentoring or quotas aimed at helping me. I appreciate this is quite a flippant comment but i do pick up from lots of comments on the Civil Service website and Community forums that this is a strong feeling out there

    • Replies to Mark Mavin>

      Comment by Phil posted on

      Mark, I have to agree with you, I have felt discriminated against for years. I am not being put in a level position when applying for posts, as all of the opportunities available for these groups are not available to me

      • Replies to Phil>

        Comment by Bill posted on

        I cannot agree more, as a white male, in reasonable health working in DWP, I am actally in a minority in my grade, and the one's around me (AO - SEO) surely there shouild be help for me, as a minority to help me progress.

        Unfortunately in this day and age, and because of wrongs in the past, it is not fashionable to support the ones that were once the 'special ones'.

    • Replies to Mark Mavin>

      Comment by S posted on

      Perhaps the reason you pick it up so much from civil service blogs is because your category (white middle aged males) are the majority. "He who shouts the loudest" etc. You are statistically dominant at the senior grades, slightly more at HEO level and increasingly more so the higher up the grades we go. Whereas minorities do not have that advantage, quite the reverse, and the development schemes, mentoring etc are offered to minorities to try and flatten out that unfair balance in favour of white middle aged men.

      Quotas do not exist by the way, they are illegal.

      • Replies to S>

        Comment by Paul - HMRC posted on

        I'm in a category of one, me. Yes I'm white, middle aged and male. That does not mean that I am the same as other white, middle aged males. It's about time we started to focus on individuals and their skills, not their skin colour or gender. This whole SJW movement is a very slippery slope, and it's disappointing to see government join the bandwagon.

        I have to also ask about the gender pay gap, last time I checked we get paid on grade and time served, not gender. Please stop spreading the gender pay gap myth about. Or give me concrete figures that a man gets paid more for doing the same job as a woman, then we can look at taking said business to court for breaking the law.

  4. Comment by Lindsay Smith posted on

    An inclusion policy must then run side by side with a willingness for senior managers to apply the Attendance Mangement policy with a flexible approach, especially to those vulnerable staff with long term conditions affecting physical/mental health and with recognised disabilities.

    Speaking from personal experience and i know many others who have been the target of a sustained, inflexible and rigorous approach by senior managers who's goal is to punish and dismiss employees with invaluable experience and long service. With the right support and flexible approach staff with disabilities can remain in the workplace and their attendance managed to acceptable levels.

    Having 31 years unblemished service and then being faced with the very real threat of dismissal because of erroneous application of the Attendance Management policy by certain senior staff most definitely needs addressing and quickly too. Our organisation are dismissing staff who are vulnerable and need support not punishing !!

    So when we talk of being an exemplar of inclusion and diversity lets start at the very bottom and ensure managers know how to support staff with disabilities and be flexible in their approach when applying the Attendance Managemnt Policy and especially
    to staff with physical/mental conditions.

  5. Comment by Charlotte Smith posted on

    I am all for inclusion and diversity having worked as a local diversity representative myself. And speaking from personaI experience of being a disabled employee myself, i can only welcome any initiative and think it is excellent that permanent secretaries now have diversity and inclusion included as one of their work objectives. That can and should be beneficial to business in the long term. However i think a lot more improvements can be made at a local level both practically and educationally.

  6. Comment by John Wiedenhof. CCO Edinburgh posted on

    While the creation and Implementation of the Barriers to success program is encouraging I hope the current PMR system will be included in this review. The current PMR system is biased towards Self-promoting and Self-serving individuals, possible not the best individuals to lead. The ability to 'sell' yourself and use self-promoting corporate language should not be a basis for success. Many individuals with the civil service are uncomfortable with the current system and find it difficult to complete. Unfortunately, this may mean that talented individuals are overlooked due to an inability sell themselves as well as others. The system is also very time consuming for team members and managers. The monthly loss of production time across the civil service must be enormous. This performance system is surely detrimental to success in making sure we feel truly valued and making people feel genuinely included. I am encouraged that diversity and attitudes to diversity are to be scrutinised and reviewed. Without a truly diverse workforce we will find it difficult to make the best policy decisions to represent the UK's rich and diverse society or to meet the future challenges faced by the civil service and country. Good luck to all teams and individuals included in this endeavour.