The Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Awards began in 2007! They were established to celebrate and showcase the commitment and exceptional achievements of individual civil servants and teams across the country, who have demonstrated innovation and leadership, building an inclusive and modern Civil Service reflective of the society we serve.
This year’s awards attracted a record number of nominations - 187 - a huge 22% increase on 2014. We were blown away by the high quality of entries which made choosing a shortlist of 5 nominations for each category a tough call. Everybody nominated should be proud of their achievement and the 35 teams and individuals who made the final shortlist fully deserved their day in Whitehall.
Almost 180 people celebrated the announcement of our winners in the seven categories and left visibly inspired by their achievements. A broad spectrum of civil servants attended including the shortlisted nominees, diversity champions, senior leaders, HR and diversity specialists, leaders of our employee networks, trade union colleagues and representatives from our external partners and specialist organisations. We also welcomed three of our newly appointed Diversity Advisers Karen Blackett, Lord Holmes and Helena Morrissey.
We heard some inspiring stories from Civil Servants supporting 'cared for' young adults to become more employable; providing better services to vulnerable customers in hospices; improving the support offered to transgender and Muslim women prisoners; and providing work experience opportunities for injured and wounded service personnel. These examples of how innovation makes a huge difference to our customers, who are often among the most vulnerable in society.
There were excellent examples of colleagues building networks to improve levels of promotion and progression among BAME civil servants, challenging perceptions on gender and tackling issues affecting LGB&T civil servants. All 35 shortlisted nominations are here and can help us all continue to improve.
Next up for the winners is to attend the Civil Service Awards at Buckingham Palace on 12 November, where our 'magnificent seven' will form the shortlist for the Diversity and Inclusion Award. I wish all seven the best of luck.
The challenge ahead
Sir Jeremy Heywood closed the ceremony and I share his sentiments:
This is a great celebration of the progress we have made on diversity and inclusion over the past year. We still have a long way to go but, for as long as I am Head of the Civil Service, this will remain one of my top priorities. The individuals and teams nominated have done a fantastic job in pushing this agenda and are an inspiration to us all.
And to prove that this isn't just about giving ourselves a pat on the back, Karen Blackett, one of our Diversity Advisers and Chief Executive of Media.com gave her reflections:
The atmosphere was energetic, celebratory and palpable. Extremely encouraging was the breadth of different teams and departments of varying size that are genuinely putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of the Civil Service. Each have pioneered and developed a range of initiatives that can be shared and reapplied throughout the Civil Service. I am looking forward to working with you.
Well done to everybody involved - including Dods, the Civil Service D&I Team, Microlink and Lin Homer and her team.
All in all, we can be fantastically proud of the progress the Civil Service has made.
Our challenge (and opportunity!) is to ensure that we build on this momentum over the coming year and do even better in 2016. There is still much more to do and we need to maintain the pace and momentum as we implement the Talent Action Plan Removing Barriers programme and achieve our aim of building an inclusive Civil Service that is truly reflective of modern Britain.
[All photographs copyright: Paul Heartfield/Dods events]