There's a new award in town and I would love it to get some attention.
The Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion awards are a well established highlight of our annual cycle. Each year we see an incredible range of inspiring nominations, demonstrating all the passionate and creative work happening across government.
This year, there is a new category, Championing Faith and Belief Inclusion, recognising the increased weight we have given to this aspect of diversity and inclusion over the last couple of years. I have blogged previously about how faith and belief has long been something we don't talk about, for all sorts of reasons, from personal reticence to fear of giving offence.
The Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion strategy, and my appointment as diversity champion for Faith and Belief, marked the start of a change in that. We have focused in the first instance on promoting conversations under the banner of 'let's talk about faith and belief'. I have been delighted by the positive reception that has had, giving increased confidence and visibility to existing activities and encouraging new ones.
There is fabulous stuff going on, organised by networks and individuals round the country. In the last fortnight alone I have been to the launch of the Humanists in Government network, attended the Christians in Government Easter service, and taken part in a deeply moving interfaith event commemorating those who died in the Christchurch mosque attacks.
Last November's Interfaith Week saw the launch of several departmental networks as well as a discussion on the faith response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Humanists were represented for the first time at the Cenotaph in Whitehall as we commemorated the centenary of the end of the First World War, in which soldiers of many faiths fought together.
Those initiatives to support colleagues with different faith and belief systems sit alongside work in many parts of the public sector to ensure that our services are founded on an understanding of how religious belief shapes people's lives. I heard about one example of this, Public Health England’s work to improve cancer screening awareness and uptake in Muslim communities, at the Muslim Collaboration Network's AGM earlier this year.
That is a small sample of what I know about, and a tiny fraction of all that is going on across government. And now, in the same way that we have been doing for gender and race equality, social mobility, disability and LGBTI inclusion, we have the opportunity to recognise the contribution of teams and individuals to faith and belief inclusion.
So do, please, take a moment to think about examples you may have seen of someone creating an inclusive culture for people with different faith and belief systems, whether by helping others to fulfil their potential, tackling barriers or promoting understanding of faith and belief to improve user experience.
There is still time plenty of time to consider submitting a nomination, the deadline has now been extended until 3 May. Just go to the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion awards’ website, where you can find more about the process, and read up on stories from previous years’ nominees and winners.
I look forward to seeing the nominations.
Follow Clare on Twitter: @ClareMoriarty.
Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on
Thank you for promoting this. I have just returned from a Posting to Istanbul. Despite being a practising Christian, I did find that my religious beliefs affected my relationship with the local members of staff or impacted on my day to day life. In fact, I found that by having respect for both of these faiths helped me to ensure that I behaved in an appropriate manner.
In response to the comments from Tom Smart. Unfortunately, during my 28+ years with the Civil Service I have both experienced and observed some element of racial discrimination. I have however seen a vast improvement and certainly the rollout of the unconscious bias training course has contributed to this.
Comment by Tom Start posted on
I personally have in all my forty five years in the civil service working for the MOD have never encountered racism in the civil service colleagues I have worked with and as work means that we are in contact with a number of different nationalities and faiths I think I personally believe that's a credit to the civil service that a there is not any culture of racism.