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Civil Service

Six steps towards greater inclusion

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Diversity and inclusion
Head and shoulders image of Martin Vernon
Martin Vernon, Home Office

While leading the Immigration Intelligence People Board at the Home Office, I had an additional interest in following and promoting across our teams the various blogs, articles and events relating to engagement, diversity and culture. I always found it inspiring to hear stories about individuals’ first-hand experience and how they would leave you with that spark of pride in our colleagues and their courage to speak out .

Reading Jason Ghaboos’s recent post on 'Working together for the benefit of all', I was prompted to share my experiences and present a challenge to us all.

I like to think that my team and I are totally inclusive, but experience has taught me that perceptions and reality can often be different. So, seeing how openly inclusion and diversity is talked about across the Home Office is great to see and a great step forward in our becoming truly inclusive.

I lead a relatively small team, so the percentages around any groupings can become a little nugatory. However, I feel that not getting hung up on the numbers has allowed me to think more widely about what inclusion means to us as a team.  

Sense of fairness

When talking to my team, inclusion means being treated fairly and with respect and feeling that our individual unique value is recognised and appreciated by everyone. Getting this right promotes a real sense of belonging and commitment to the team and our objectives.

Our sense of fairness is deep-rooted in our psychology, so I encourage everyone to listen for the rumblings that might indicate some form of unfairness at work. This is really important, enables early intervention and helps me to understand the perceptions that may be affecting how a person is feeling.

Seeing each of my colleagues as an integral and valued part of our team is important to me. I strive to recognise that each person is unique and promote an environment where everyone can speak up and influence decision-making. This has contributed to a shared culture that thrives on collaboration, sharing of opinions and ideas – and one where we challenge proactively. Key to doing this has been for me to acknowledge my own weaknesses, and to not be afraid to ask for help.

My six steps

With this in mind, we can all challenge ourselves to:

  1. commit to inclusion – see how you can devote time and energy to supporting inclusion
  2. be courageous – challenge attitudes and practices and don’t be afraid to show humility and acknowledge your own limitations
  3. become cognisant of bias – look to understand your personal and organisational biases, so as to expand your field of vision and influence decisions
  4. be curious – be open-minded and look to highlight different ideas, giving people a voice and not being dismissive of people and their ideas
  5. promote social cultural intelligence – develop your team’s knowledge of other cultures, enhancing your ability to change your approach in response to different cultural norms
  6. be collaborative – create an environment where diversity of thinking and collaboration engenders a group identity, such that your team understand and value each other’s knowledge and abilities

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you for an informative blog. I would certainly agree with your six steps.

    Certainly from my observations and as a current Chair, the FCO Staff Associations have been very much instrumental in ensuring that we have an inclusive working environment in which colleagues can feel empowered to bring their whole self to without fear of being judged or discriminated against and where unacceptable behaviour is challenged.

  2. Comment by Ruel Cole posted on

    Without Prejudice
    Hello Martin, I have read your blog a number of times before doing my comment. I would just like to say, when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), in the working environment, and in the wider civil service also in the community, I am driven by very strong desire and a commitment to promoting D&I. All this has come about after reading what Asquith Xavier, did in 1966, at Euston train station.
    I also share the Permeant Secretary Richard Heaton, vision regarding inclusion within the MoJ/HMCTS. So, I know that that D&I is very important within the department and across the civil service as a whole. Martin, I think your blog is an eye opener and it got me thinking as I read your “Six steps towards great inclusion”. Can I say not everyone can speak up and influence decision-making, I love the challenge of trying to be brave and bold and show why D&I is the way forward within the civil service. So, when it comes to D&I there are something that are very deep-rooted in one’s psychology to help make the MoJ the number one department when it comes to D&I within the civil service.