Commission welcomes appointment of new diversity champions

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Diversity in the workplaceThe Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed the announcement of four new Whitehall diversity champions to help the Civil Service become more representative of modern Britain. In a National Audit Office report earlier this year, the NAO said that although Whitehall had made some progress on promoting diversity, it needed to place greater emphasis on departments’ valuing and maximising the contribution of every member of their staff. The report by the watchdog also concluded that the Cabinet Office was not using the data it holds on staff to manage workforce changes and hold departments to account. The new advisers, who include Paralympic swimming hero Chris Holmes, Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012, will work to challenge policies and advise ministers and Civil Service leaders on increasing the numbers of people in the workforce from under-represented groups.

Commenting on the move the EHRC said: “We welcome the appointment of the new diversity advisers which includes one of our Commissioners Lord Holmes. This is a positive step towards addressing the underrepresentation of disabled people, ethnic minority staff, LGB and T people and women in the Civil Service.

“Progress in improving diversity in the Civil Service has been slow but this is an opportunity to address the issue with new vigour. If our civil service is to continue to be regarded as a world leader, it needs to draw on all talents across our communities or risk failing to draw on the full potential of the communities it seeks to serve.”

The new diversity advisers are:

Stephen Frost: From 2014 to 2015, he was Head of Diversity and Inclusion at KPMG and continues as a strategic advisor to the firm and its clients.

Karen Blackett OBE: Chief Executive Officer of media agency MediaCom UK. Karen has featured 5 times in the Power List of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People. In November 2014 she was number 1 in the Power List.

Lord Holmes of Richmond: Chris was Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. He led the team that planned and delivered, in the words of the International Paralympic Committee President, “the greatest Paralympic Games ever”. He is also Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, winning 9 gold medals, 6 at a single Games. Chris entered the House of Lords in 2013 as The Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE.

Helena Morrissey: Helena is Chief Executive Officer of Newton Investment Management and founder of the influential 30% Club which campaigns to get women on boards. She has recently been named one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In both 2013 and 2014, Helena was voted one of the 50 Most Influential People in Finance by Bloomberg Markets Magazine.

The Diversity Advisers will provide independent advice to ministers and the Head of the Civil Service on the progress that is being made on diversity and inclusion. They will speak at important events and sit on the Removing Barriers Implementation Board, challenging, advising and supporting Civil Service leaders.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, Head of the Civil Service, said: “The Civil Service takes pride in its differences and we have a duty to become even more representative of modern Britain.

A diverse and inclusive workforce is proven to be more efficient and effective, and I want Stephen, Karen, Chris and Helena to take a no-holds-barred approach and tell us clearly where we can improve. I am passionate about encouraging individuals from all backgrounds to aim high and achieve their potential too, and in doing so to help the Civil Service become a truly socially inclusive employer.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock, added: “In order to bring the country together as one nation, it is essential that the Civil Service is truly representative of modern Britain. Improving levels of diversity and inclusion is not simply important for the role of the Civil Service as an employer, but also in the development of policy and in the delivery of more effective and efficient services.”