For a long time, the Civil Service has been leading the way on diversity and inclusion. As a public body that serves to develop and deliver policies and services that affect the lives of people across the country, it is vital that the civil service is representative of modern Britain.
The government’s latest figures on D&I revealed that 53.9% of Civil Servants are women, 12.7% are ethnic minorities, and 11.7% are disabled. On top of this, the Department of Work and Pensions has totally eliminated the gender pay gap, setting an important standard for other organisations to follow. There is clearly an unrelenting desire for improvement in the civil service – despite the fact many government departments are already well above the national average for D&I.
Evidence has shown that diversity facilitates creativity and innovation through the convergence of insights, background and life experience. Like the Civil Service, at NTT DATA we place real significance on creating an environment where a variety of different voices are encouraged and heard. The powerful effect of being able to call on a diverse workforce and all the benefits that go with it are central to our culture.
Leading the way
The Civil Service has a number of initiatives in place that encourage diversity and inclusion, the impact of which is evidenced through stats and employee testimonials.
In April 2018, the Civil Service published a data dashboard, detailing its progress on diversity and inclusion. Updated several times a year, the dashboard facilitates more effective benchmarking of performance between departments and demonstrates progress towards a range of important outcomes, including progress against its targets. The dashboard is available to the wider public, allowing for important scrutiny from the taxpayer and driving home a responsibility to commit to and action promises.
Access to data and analysing data are key to tackling diversity and inclusion. Data provides us with factual information which we can use to track progress and understand where improvements can be made. Recently, NTT DATA has partnered with the Civil Service to create the Civil Service Data Challenge, inviting Civil Servants to submit their ideas on how government can improve its use of data. As well as finding new ways to boost efficiency, improve public services and strengthen policymaking, the challenge will allow civil servants to provide their own recommendations on how the government can use data to improve diversity and inclusion.
Attracting young, diverse talent is also a key priority for the Civil Service. Its multi-award-winning Summer Diversity Internship gives people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the civil service is like and a chance to progress onto the Fast Stream.
In 2018, The Home Office became the first government department to introduce gender neutral toilets, a progressive step in the recognition of trans rights within the workplace.
These examples are just a few of the ways the Civil Service attracts and retains diverse talent. The public sector continues to set itself new goals and ambitions year on year, ensuring it continues to lead the way across the UK.
A reflection of the Civil Service’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can be seen in its leadership: 45.2% of Senior Civil Servants are women. Throughout the Civil Service there are a number of formidable women in leadership roles: Alison Pritchard, Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Data Capability at the Office for National Statistics, Joanna Davinson, Executive Director at the Central Digital and Data Office, Tamara Finkelstein, Head of the Policy Profession & Permanent Secretary at Defra, and Sue Bateman, Deputy Director, Policy & Innovation at the Government Digital Service.
These women serve as role models to young women across the country looking to enter a career in government. They are also testament to the success of the Civil Services’ gender-neutral job descriptions and positive use of data. These women are committed to driving diversity, innovation and the data agenda in government and are using their expertise to judge the Civil Service Data Challenge.
The pandemic has disrupted a number of areas, including destabilising diversity and inclusion initiatives across industries and sectors. However, NTT DATA’s recent survey of furloughed employees revealed that 71% of Civil Service and government employees plan to stay in the industry after furlough compared to average of 49% planning to stay across all furloughed private and public sector employees surveyed. This points to the high levels of security and support offered to those working in the public sector when compared to their private sector counterparts.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the government has led the way in listening to its employees, offering flexible working and environments suited to individual needs. This new attitude to work and physical space is likely to remain firmly in place in the post-pandemic world, making the prospect of working for the Civil Service ever more attractive, and increasing the likelihood of attracting a diverse workforce.
The Civil Service as a whole is now more diverse than at any time in its history. The private sector can look to the public sector for guidance and inspiration on championing diversity and inclusion. There is always more to be done, but as the public sector and private sector interact on this topic, we can learn from each other and move the dial on D&I across the whole economy.