One of our Commissioners and Chair of our Diversity Group, Natalie Campbell MBE, writes about how the Commission can support the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

The Art of the Possible – supporting the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

The drive to increase the diversity of the Civil Service is keenly shared by the Commission. As the regulator, we’re there to provide assurance that appointments are made fairly and on merit, so internal levers to increase diversity such as talent development programmes, temporary promotion, mentoring etc.. are not within our remit.

But with the Commission’s unique perspective across departments’ recruitment from chairing open competitions at senior levels and its role in auditing processes across government, we are using our experience and influence to help departments deliver on their ambition to be more representative of the country they serve.

Challenging the Civil Service to improve diversity in the SCS is one of the Commission’s strategic priorities, set out by Ian Watmore in 2016 Key strategic aims and actions that flow from this include:

How can the Commission support departments to get more diverse candidates?

  • by increasing our own data capabilities (capture and analytics)
  • better communications/encouraging applications 
  • increasing the Commission’s presence/raising our visibility
  • improving departmental job packs and advertising strategies when chairing SCS competitions

How do we help departments maintain their focus on diversity?

  • working with networks and other stakeholders
  • regular discussion at the Commission board and diversity working group
  • communications and events
  • promote and challenge when chairing competitions
  • use compliance visits to encourage and support HRD and Perm sec

How do we create challenge in the diversity agenda?

  • recognise, join and promote the different outlets for work on diversity across government, for example, the People Board
  • raise awareness at the outset of competitions, and ensure it is embedded at the planning stage- with action points for departments
  • regular monitoring of data 
  • Commissioners feeding back on competitions, adding to our best practice guide and using these insights in future competitions

Link Commissioners

Our Commissioners are ideally placed to use their influence in competitions and in their roles as link Commissioners. The link Commissioner role pairs Commissioners with the 20 or so main departments and professions with the aim to meet regularly with Perm Secs and/or HRD’s/Heads of Profession to discuss recruitment activity. Link Commissioners act impartially and champion best practice and promote compliance with the Recruitment Principles and the Civil Service Code. The link Commissioners are ideally placed to provide advice and challenge on departmental plans to enhance diversity through recruitment.

Diversity working group 

As well as overseeing competitions, our Commissioners, who bring broad experience across all sectors, engage in a wide range of Commission work, including working groups that have delivered a number of positive actions:

  • Best Practice Guide, collecting information to enable Commissioners to better challenge departments to think more widely when recruiting to senior positions. 
  • D&I reporting is now a key component of compliance in the Commission’s audits, particularly around risk ratings given and the scorecards.
  • Demystifying events to engage with different stakeholders on the Commission’s purpose and the application of the Recruitment Principles and the Code.
  • Evening event with search firms and other interested stakeholders with the aim of strengthening mutual engagement around issues including the government’s diversity statistics, initiatives and barriers.
  • A virtual event for candidates with disabilities who are interested in SCS roles, another demystifying event later in the year, and more blogs/short films on our website to promote careers in SCS for BAME and disabled candidates.

More information and statistics about the work of the Commission is available in our interactive annual report: https://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/CSC-ARA-Report-201920-Interactive.pdf

If you would like to know more about the Commission’s role in recruitment, take a look at our short videos: https://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/recruitment/recruitment-principles/

If you would like to speak to one of our team about our work in supporting the Civil Service on diversity and inclusion, please email: info@csc.gov.uk

Richard Webb
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