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03.07.17

Civil Service aims to be ‘most inclusive employer’ by 2020

By 2020 the Civil Service aims to be the most inclusive employer in the UK, delegates at the recent Public Sector Show were told.

During his thought-provoking presentation, Rupert McNeill, chief people officer at the UK Civil Service, stated that the service was dedicated to becoming more inclusive and creating environments where a wide range of people felt comfortable and catered for.

Inclusion has long been a difficult topic for the Civil Service, as last month the Institute for Government warned that BAME people were still badly underrepresented.

And back in 2015, a trio or reports criticised barriers to diversity that still existed in the Civil Service highlighting concern that not enough was being done to support diversity, especially at senior level.

But now, the Civil Service has boldly vowed to improve its record and push forward with reforming the sector to be more inclusive, welcoming and open to minority groups.

“The UK and the world is becoming more inclusive and we want to be the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020,” he said. “One of the things that is really pleasing coming into the Civil Service is the way in which senior leaders really lead the diversity and inclusion agenda very directly and can have a better effect on it.

“A senior leader in the Civil Service can have more freedom to do good thing than their private sector equivalent.”

But McNeill admitted that there was still a long way to go in ensuring that the Civil Service hit its diversity target – one being in improving inclusivity for older workers.

“From an inclusion perspective, the great thing about age as an issue is that everyone gets old,” the he later explained. “So, it’s actually a uniting factor, and one of the things we found talking to civil servants around the country in the last few months is that we haven’t made enough progress on the older worker issue.”

McNeill also explained about the importance of ‘micro-behaviours’ – under the surface feelings and reactions from co-workers – that can lead to a person not feeling as comfortable in their workplace as they should. 

“Fundamentally it’s about how can we actually perceive the problem,” he explained. “We have got to get to what is the lived experience and work of people from different backgrounds and ask whether they feel respected, heard, or that they can have an impact and can fulfil their potential.

“That leads on to a very interesting area – micro-behaviours. This is the multiple signals that are given off all the time in our interactions with other human beings in the workplace.

As an example, he also stated that women in senior roles in the Civil Service frequently voiced issues with how they were treated by co-workers in ways that made them not feel as comfortable as possible at work.

“We have been doing work on what it’s like being a relatively senior woman in the Civil Service and it is quite a surprise that some of the things that we thought were not happening, were happening at a level of annoyance that makes people feel not as at home as they should feel,” he said.

In terms of making progress on improving inclusion, McNeill said that the key to improving the situation was in making efforts to make inclusive and open work environments.

“One thing I’m keen to do is to show people who chair meetings how they can create inclusive environments,” he said. “There’s going to be a journey with how we measure inclusivity, but I want to get to the point in 2020 where if I ask you, ‘are we the most inclusive employer?’ then the answer will be either yes, or no but things are getting better.”

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Comments

Jane   13/07/2017 at 12:19

Disappointing that groups facing a high degree of inequality such as trans people were not mentioned. The fact that people care about age discrimination because it affects everyone, misses the point that the majority should care about the minority. LGBT issues don't even seem to be on the agenda - is this because they are a minority, the "others", rather than "us"?

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