Bringing People Together - A story of dedication and breaking down barriers.
Campaign and Projects, Leeds is a new office of over 400 people from a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. The majority of staff joined in early 2019 and many were new to HMRC. The Diversity and Inclusion Group was formed by eleven volunteers who had a passion for raising awareness and bringing people together.
Our aim is to ensure that staff recognise that we all are individual and unique with different values, skills and ways of thinking due to the experiences that we have. We promote the benefits and opportunities that these differences bring to HMRC and encourage equality and inclusion for all. We do this by raising awareness of a diverse range of topics that are both relevant to our work force but also highlight absent identities. In the last 8 months, the group has delivered over 30 awareness campaigns covering a diverse range of subjects within the following themes: -
•Faith and belief
•Health, neurodiversity and disability
•Ethnic minority history and civil rights
Campaigns are delivered through face to face workshops, external professional speakers, team engagement activities and email/internet promotions.
The group's "Time to Talk Day" events were an example of promoting better understanding of Mental Health. They ran a digital workshop that provided resources for those dealing with mental health difficulties, myth-buster activities and a quiz. For Inclusion week, the group organised engagement workshops which included activities such as exploring identities and 'speed-inclusion'. The group recognised the potential detrimental impact of colleagues working from home due to COVID-19 and took the initiative to develop online weekly group tasks that would bring promote inclusion, teams together and combat individuals' feelings of isolation.
As over two million people were asked by Government to shield and panic buying took hold, Defra set up the Food Vulnerability Directorate to ensure food support for the most vulnerable in society. Our aims were to support the food needs of varied groups of vulnerable people: those who were shielding, those who struggled to access food for any reason (e.g. the elderly, disabled people) and people who were economically vulnerable as a result of COVID-19.
At pace, the pop-up directorate set up the ground-breaking Food and Essential Supplies for the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force to oversee the work. The directorate produced analysis, which demonstrated that a sizeable group was able to afford food but unable to access it, and a larger group was unable to afford food because of COVID-19. The team worked collaboratively across government to build relationships, co-design interventions and ensure support.
An unprecedented food packages scheme delivered nearly 5 million food parcels to shielding people across England. The directorate engaged supermarkets to prioritise shielding people for delivery slots, sharing data to support access. Simultaneously, the team worked in partnership with local authorities (LAs) and supermarkets to build a ‘referral service’, a bespoke digital platform and triage system to enable LAs and selected charities to directly refer vulnerable individuals for access to prioritised slots with two supermarkets.
The team secured £16m from the DCMS Charity Fund to support economically vulnerable people through providing food to over 5000 frontline charities. The team produced analysis on geographical distribution and ethnic minority applicant outcomes from grant applications, which is producing recommendations for commercial practice. Even with this uplift, the evidence suggested that children, ethnic minority, and young people were disproportionately affected. The team led a successful bid to HMT, securing £63m, to be administered through LAs, aimed at hundreds of thousands of people experiencing acute hunger.
Heather has made a significant contribution to the success of the Scottish Government disability network and the Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network (CSDDN) toolkit. This is in addition to her work as an EO policy maker where she uses her experience of stories gathered about people in different communities to contribute wide ranging feedback to policy developments.
•Heather wrote most of the CSDDN toolkit leading a team from across the Civil Service remotely. She didn’t meet the team until the launch event. Heather developed her drawing skills to create cartoons (later improved by a graphic designer) to increase accessibility for those who find reading challenging. She did an introductory illustration course in her own time to improve her drawing skills. She was the only attendee who hadn't been to art school.
•The toolkit uses visuals and highlights the positives to support conversations between colleagues and line managers about dyslexia and dyspraxia and draft workplace adjustment passports.
•Heather networks throughout the organisation at all levels to contribute to the corporate conversation and wide ranging developments by influencing decision makers and collaborating with HR in her role as disability staff network leadership as theme lead. Heather is connected into other staff networks sharing her advice and identify and learn about intersectionality challenges. She provides peer support to colleagues helping them work through challenges.
Civil Service Carers Network (CSCN)
The CSCN is a network of networks, which brings together carers networks from across the civil service to:
a) work together to share knowledge and resources, so we can maximise the network support available to our carers.
b) promote a carer-inclusive civil service and act as a critical friend, to help the Civil Service develop and improve policy approaches for supporting our carers.
In 2019 we targeted our efforts on identifying all carers networks and invited them to join us, so we could maximise our impact and drive consistency of network support. We also identified gaps in network provision and sought out volunteers and contacts to try and encourage network development.
For all new and existing networks we provide example documentation to help them to get going, ideas for ways of working, training on wider civil service issues and standard presentations to help support outreach.
We’ve also coordinated carers week events across the UK In June 2019 and 2020 and held a ‘Celebrating Carers’ events for Carers rights day 2019, promoting understanding and engagement.
A critical friend
In early 2019 the CSCN highlighted key areas, which we felt the civil service needed to focus on in order to build a carer-inclusive civil service. This led to a commission from the Government Chief People Officer for CSCN to work with CSHR teams to create a carers strategy.
Throughout 2019 we worked with our specialist colleagues to pull together proposals, continually testing the ideas with our network committees (and their champions) to ensure they were fit for purpose. We were delighted when the strategy was launched in February 2020, and the fuller update in June, and are already working to support the implementation of the commitments made.
Supporting people at work who’ve been affected by cancer is an increasingly important topic, especially during lockdown and with a greater focus on working from home.
In the UK 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and around 1 million people of working age have been told they have cancer. The impacts of Covid-19 on people affected by cancer are significant, and supporting colleagues in vulnerable and shielding categories is vital for physical and mental wellbeing, to ensure people feel able to deliver their best work and feel included and valued during these extraordinary times.
Last year the Home Office Working Through Cancer Network won the ‘Championing Disability Inclusion’ Award for its ground-breaking work to reduce the stigma of talking about cancer in the workplace and for offering practical, every day support to its hundreds of members. Since then, we have established the Civil Service Working Through Cancer Network!
In 2019 network chair, Seonaid Webb, delivered a presentation to CS Disability Champions. Afterwards she was contacted by several departments, asking for advice on setting up their own WTC networks and where cancer support networks already existed, looking to work together on cross-cutting themes such as improving HR policies, enhancing the lived experience of people with a disability, and building line manager confidence and capability. Membership has continued to grow throughout 2020 and at the last count there are now 25 organisations represented in the network, including Scottish, Welsh and NI governments!
We now have >150 trainers across the Civil Service.
The network has two simple principles: 1) to support people affected by cancer, as well as carers and line managers supporting people diagnosed with cancer, and 2) to normalise talking about cancer in the workplace to build a more inclusive culture and improve lived experience.
The co-chairs of the All Belief network at Office for National Statistics (ONS), Jaspreet Gakhal and Paul Thomas, are dedicated to tackling misconceptions and raising awareness of religious, and non-religious, faiths and beliefs. Both Jaspreet and Paul volunteer to lead the All Belief network in addition to their normal job roles. This nomination focuses on their accomplishments for 2019 Interfaith week.
Jaspreet and Paul chose ‘Building Bridges’ as the theme for Interfaith week. They settled on three key aims:
•Raise awareness of how other diversity characteristics interact with faith and beliefs
•Encourage personal storytelling from colleagues
•Improve collaboration with other ONS diversity networks
At the heart of these aims was a passionate desire to enhance understanding of different faiths and beliefs across the organisation, alongside building stronger relationships between colleagues to improve inclusion.
The aims were discussed and agreed with the network sponsor, and Faith and Belief champion for ONS, Peter Benton. Peter was fully supportive of their aims, so much so that he highlighted the ‘Building Bridges’ theme to the Civil Service’s Faith and Belief Champion, who eagerly adopted this as the theme across the entire Civil Service.
Jaspreet and Paul spoke with their fellow diversity networks chairs to highlight their aims for Interfaith week. Their passionate call to increase inclusivity resonated with their network colleagues and all were keen to work together to make the week a success. This collaboration produced a fantastic range of events celebrating faith and belief, with intersectionality at the core. They included a panel discussion on Faith with senior leaders; Christianity and Sexual Orientation; Disability and Faith; and Unveiling Islam. This calendar of events was an outstanding achievement where personal stories were shared, understanding raised and connections made thanks to Jaspreet and Paul’s passionate commitment.
The Home Office Gender Equality Network (GEN) was re-launched by Kerry O’Dea and Jason Ghaboos (Co-Chairs) in April 2019. They established a core team, a diverse group of over 25 passionate volunteers from all across the Home Office.
GEN takes a programmatic approach, initiating a series of pilots and projects aimed at improving workplace inclusivity for all staff and embedding gender equality in everything the department does. GEN take an evidence led approach to pilot new initiatives and ways of working, drawing from departmental data, surveys and focus groups with staff, with a strong focus on outcomes.
GEN focus on the personal development of our team, supporting each other to achieve our goals. GEN doesn’t recognise grade structures- the most junior grade can be working on the highest profile project.
Since 2019 GEN has delivered:
•Jason Ghaboos was seconded to Murray College, University of Cambridge to take forward ground-breaking research on workplace inclusion, 'Collaborating with Men'. The research has featured in Forbes magazine and Jason undertook outreach with stakeholders including: Number 10, Cabinet Office, the Government of Jersey, ONS, GCHQ and more.
•GEN developed a new Gender Action Plan for the department with an intersectional approach, considering how different protected characteristics are interconnected, recognising the importance of how this relates to our workplace culture.
•GEN delivered the first ever Home Office intersectional event in March for 250 staff, celebrating the Civil Service Year of Inclusion and bringing together all the staff support networks.
• Working with HR and all the staff support networks, GEN led an intersectional and collaborative approach to establish Exit Interviews for the department, delivering one survey for all staff, covering all the protected characteristics.
•Established a project on imposter syndrome, almost 100 staff members have benefited from training sessions, a discussion forum, and key note speaker events.
BRITISH EMBASSY SANTIAGO LEADING ON LGBTI+ INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
British Embassy Santiago is recognised among the twenty best employers in Chile for LGBTI+ talent, becoming the first diplomatic mission and public sector organisation in Chile, and the only British Embassy in the region, to receive accreditation from one of Latin America’s leading LGBTI+ civil society networks as a workplace committed to LGBTI+ inclusion.
“Equidad CL Certification” is an accreditation granted by Chilean and regional LGBTI+ civil society recognising employers and workplaces committed to LGBTI+ inclusion. The accreditation is given each year by the Fundación Iguales (the leading organisation for LGBTI+ rights in Chile), Pride Connection Chile (a business network that promotes inclusive workplaces) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC; one of the Americas largest LGBTI+ civil rights organisations).
In 2020, a total of 63 companies and organisations participated in the certification process and were assessed in three core areas of LGBTI+ inclusion: adoption of non-discriminatory policies; the creation of employee resource groups / diversity and inclusion committees; and engagement in public activities supporting LGBT inclusion. Scoring well in each area the Embassy was recognised as one of Chile’s twenty best places to work for LGBT equality and becomes the first diplomatic mission and public sector employer in the country to receive the certification.
The Embassy’s efforts working with the LGBTI+ community in Chile put into action the UK’s wider commitment to make equality a reality for LGBT people the world over. Attaining accreditation pulled together the Embassy’s public diplomacy, corporate policies, learning and development and local outreach into a strategic effort, working towards contributing to eradicating discrimination and setting a standard for LGBTI+ inclusion in Chile for the public and private sector alike.
Title: Research into Action: The Experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Men in DFID
“They have taken everything they can from me as a black man short of killing me.” (DFID BAME Men’s Report, 2020)
Problem/objectives: DFID has a problem of representation and discrimination of its ethnic minority staff, particularly acute for black men. There are no black men in DFID’s Senior Civil Service (SCS). Granular data on BAME men’s experiences in DFID and ways to support them fulfil their potential has been lacking. For the first time in DFID’s history, this innovative project sought to (i) empower BAME men to share lived experiences; (ii) understand how race affects BAME men’s employment experiences; and (iii) advocate for improvements. The analysis unpacked the term BAME by disaggregating responses from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic men. The outcome was a 43-page report launched on 21 March 2020 (International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) which proved particularly timely given the subsequent focus on race following the death of George Floyd and reporting on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities. The report provided unique insights on what is preventing BAME men from realising their potential, including subtle and overt forms of discrimination: racially-aggravated shouting, swearing, racist jokes and sexualised-racial harassment. The findings ran contrary to the Department’s values in helping the world’s poorest and ensuring ‘no-one is left behind’.
Methodology/actions/challenges: The team of nine (including six BAME men) were volunteers with full-time jobs. The work supported DFID’s first Race Action Plan launched in January 2020. BAME men were encouraged to share lived experiences with assurance that anonymity would be maintained and information provided would be handled sensitively. Respondents demonstrated considerable bravery in providing testimonies and some reported re-living traumas they had buried. Support was offered. Expectations were managed given culture change takes time. The outcome was the amplification of previously silent voices on uncomfortable truths and a commitment from senior management to turn awareness into prioritising race within the inclusion agenda. This has been borne out in 4 actions taken since the merger of DFID and FCO, now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO): (i) appointment of Tim Barrow as Board Sponsor for Race; (ii) signing up the FCDO to Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter; (iii) launch of the FCDO Summit Programme (a talent scheme for HEO-G6 BAME FCDO Civil Servants) and (iv) creation of an Inclusion Unit, led by a Deputy Director, with dedicated resource on race.
DWP's core purpose is to ensure social mobility opportunities for our customers in our community. We wanted to replicate the same opportunities to develop for our Work Coaches across the South East. Many colleagues join DWP straight from school leading to a lack of confidence and self limiting beliefs to progress to more senior roles in the organisation.
The Aspire development programme was designed to promote self-awareness sessions, action learning sets, mentoring and formal learning. Each of the participants have been matched with a mentor who is outside of their line management. This was to provide a support system tailored to the participants’ individual needs, helping them to focus on achievable career aspirations and goals. Inspirational Speakers attend each monthly meeting to share their career journey and barriers they have had to overcome. Diversity of thinking and thought was key and we sourced high profile key note speakers from various Civil Service Departments that also included subsequent exchange visits that included the Ministry of Defence. The learning and development the participants receive on the programme is bespoke and tailored to prepare them for career progression.They have been encouraged to discuss within the programme to challenge self-imposed barriers to success and to show greater confidence in the ability to communicate effectively with greater impact and purpose. They have been shown how to build a powerful personal brand and how to set challenging and achievable goals and objectives. Feedback from the participants has been extremely positive, believing the programme has increased their personal confidence levels and sense of purpose by having time to develop their own values and how they can be promoted within the organisation. Due to the programme many of the participants now have a new found confidence to seek opportunities to progress.
Title: Transforming Fast Stream disability inclusion
•The Fast Stream and Early Talent (FSET) team oversees the flagship Fast Stream programme for graduates who have the potential to become Civil Service future leaders - standing at number 1 in The Times Top 100 graduate employers listing, as well as being The Times Employer of Choice for HR and the Public sector in 2020, in addition to the 2019 Personnel Today Awards Graduate Employer of the Year. This is alongside other D&I award winning achievements in 2019-20, including the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative, the Institute of Student Employers, Business Culture, and National Undergraduate Employability awards. This recognition provides evidence of going beyond normal commitment.
•Our new FSET D&I Strategy vision (in draft) is to “be the most inclusive graduate and early talent programme in the UK” – reflecting attraction, representation and inclusion - with disability and neurodiversity an essential priority.
•We are a Disability Confident Leader and aim to maximise disability attraction and representation within our recruitment approach. We are passionate about proactive improvement to support disabled young people. And we are passionate also in respect to inclusion – creating the environment and culture for post holders with disabilities to flourish.
•The team delivers its disability strategy through a fully integrated set of functions that addresses:
oMarketing and attraction.
oDiversity & Inclusion interventions.
•Core also are FSET’s multi-award winning positive action diversity internships for first year undergraduates (Early Diversity Internship Programme), penultimate and final year undergraduates (Summer Diversity Internship Programme) and young people on the autism spectrum (Autism Exchange Internship Programme). All programmes encompass disability participants – wholly in terms of the autism programme - along with other diversity categories.
The Civil Service LGBT+ Network
As the cross-government network for LGBT+ civil servants and for the networks within Civil Service organisations the CSLGBT+ Network provides a supportive environment that enables individuals to connect across departments develop their understanding of themselves within the LGBT+ community, while also connecting and developing departmental network leads through their Leaders of Networks Forum, enabling them to collaborate and support each other. The Network also acts as a critical friend to the Civil Service D&I team, impacting on culture change through feeding back on policies and practices through routes such as NVAG, they also link with LGB&TI champions across the civil service to improve their understanding and contextualise issues, raising their profiles as role models or allies, ensuring they are involved in their events. They do this through close collaboration with Jonathan Slater as CS LGB&TI+ Champion, playing a key role in setting the agenda for the champions meetings and presenting at each one, recent examples include presentations on “the impact of Covid-19 on LGB&TI communities” and “the + in LGBT+”. The Network also meet regularly with Jonathan to educate him on historical experience, keep him abreast of current issues and advise him on strategy.
The Network is strongly collaborative, working with the CS Race Forum to create and present awareness raising sessions focused on BAME LGBT individuals and their contribution throughout history linked to the Pride progressive flag and better allyship between communities. Additionally the Chair mentors other cross-government Chairs supporting them in creating more sustainable network structures and identifying intersects around e.g. BAME and LGBT. They use volunteers collaboratively, encouraging cross-departmental working groups to implement initiatives like PrideON, ensuring diversity of thought, approach and content. They also have a strong working partnership with a:gender the cross-government T&I network.