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Celebrating diversity in the Civil Service

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As civil servants you will all be aware of the reform that is taking place across our organisation.

In order to keep pace in a world in which accountability, digital capability and exceptional performance are essential, we need to make sure we build a civil service that is more open, skilled and unified – an organisation that is equipped for the challenges of modern government and which can continue deliver long into the future.

But, amidst this change, our enduring focus is ensuring that we continue to nurture that which makes us special as an organisation: our diversity. Reform is key to our future success, but it is just as important that we make sure we do not lose our commitment to championing equality and fairness both in our organisation and across society. We are stronger when we draw upon talent from across the board – our variety is one of our biggest strengths.

A big part of this is championing the great work of civil servants across the country who are committed to ensuring that our organisation, our public services and the United Kingdom as a whole are entirely fair and equal.

This is why I’m so thrilled to have attended the Diversity and Equality Awards this afternoon at DEFRA.

These awards are a really important landmark in the Civil Service calendar – they allow us to celebrate the many exceptional achievements that are made by civil servants every day in helping to promote diversity and equality, whether it is on the policy or delivery side, promoting engagement in communities or driving forward inclusivity in employment.

Each and every one of the nominees in attendance today has contributed significantly to making us a more diverse, inclusive and therefore stronger organisation. Making sure that the Civil Service is an exemplar of these values is something I am passionate about, and celebrating nominees’ success this afternoon was one of the highlights of my year.

There are many things we have got right where diversity is concerned. More than half of current civil servants are women, as are nearly 40% of all senior civil servants. Conversely, just 19.1% of FTSE100 companies’ board members are women. We are also more diverse than ever before in a geographical sense – the Civil Service of 2013 contradicts the Whitehall-centric caricature of government with 83% of all civil servants now based outside London.

But there is no danger of us resting on our laurels – I recognise that we have a long way to go. The proportion of ethnic minority civil servants has risen from 5.7% in 1997 to 9.6% in 2013, but ethnic minority workers account for 11% of the overall economically-active population. We are yet to meet our target of 5% of the SCS to be made up of staff with disabilities, whilst there is still a 9.9% gender pay gap across the organisation. Moreover, 8 female permanent secretaries out of 36 is an improvement but, at 22%, it isn’t enough.

The Civil Service compares very well on the issue of diversity. A 2008 study predicted that the Civil Service will be fully representative of the UK population within 10 years, compared to 70 for FTSE100 companies. However this isn’t just about making sure we compare well and being content – it is about ensuring that every civil servant is able to benefit from the same opportunities. It is about making sure we are drawing on the best people for every single position.

For me, it is simple: if you have the talent and the enthusiasm to do well in the Civil Service, nothing should prevent you from doing so.

Don’t forget to check out the Diversity and Equality Awards website where you will find the profiles of all nominees. If you’re looking to feel inspired, be sure to have a read.

Ensuring that the Civil Service is the gold standard of diversity and equality is something I am determined that we make a reality, and hearing about the great work taking place across the Civil Service leaves me full of confidence that we can do just that.

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  1. Comment by Michelle Woodburn posted on

    I would like to ask what the department is doing to assist the transition of transgender reassignment personnel into the workplace. Both for the individual themselves and their department in this change. As an ex MOD Welfare Advisor and someone who has helped someone with this transition I have a particular interest in supporting this client/work group.