Making the public sector a more inclusive place to work

Kylie Havelock, Kit Collingwood-Richardson and Zara Farrar

The UK public sector employs 5.4 million people, performing a huge variety of roles across the country. Our job as public servants is to deliver the best services for millions of UK citizens, and to do that we need to understand and represent the needs of many different groups across society.

What are we currently doing?

The public sector is working hard on diversity and inclusion, and almost all measures of these are improving. Lots of passionate people commit a great deal of time to organise events and initiatives that help their organisation do better.

Last week DWP hosted their ‘Women in Digital’ event in Leeds; it brought people together to discuss the challenges of being part of an underrepresented group in the technology industry.

Kylie spoke about the ‘normalising’ work being done at the Ministry of Justice to address the imbalance of gender and better represent their users. Throughout the day, attendees heard about lots of similar initiatives happening in other bits of government.

This got us thinking two things:

What other good stuff is happening across government that we haven’t heard about?

How can we combine our efforts and make them greater than the sum of their parts?

We believe to have a greater impact on diversity and inclusion we need to be working across government, and beyond to the rest of the public sector.

What can we do better?

Our experiences in the workplace are affected by many different aspects of our identity. Lots of us are members of more than one group in terms of diversity characteristics. This means we feel the impact of things like unconscious bias in varying configurations and degrees of intensity. We want to recognise and do more work on this intersectionality.

We believe the public sector should be a place where it’s ok to be both a woman and LGBTQ*; to be a young male and have mental health issues; to be a person of faith from a lower socio-economic background; and so on.

Many existing communities are doing fantastic work in campaigning for better understanding and inclusion of their members. We want to bring these passionate people together to make our collective work stronger, to talk across different interest groups, and to make everyone welcome.

What’s next and what can you do?

Thanks to all those who responded to our shout-out on Twitter — we’ll be in touch soon.

We’ve done some initial planning and need your help in a few ways to begin with: first up, please share details of any existing diversity and inclusion groups in the public sector — our contact details are below.

If you’re part of an organisation which has a similar mission to this, please get in touch. If you’re a researcher, developer, data scientist or analyst with an interest in this work, we particularly want to hear from you.

We plan to hold an event later in the year to get together and talk more. Watch this space — and if you’d be willing to volunteer to organise it again please let us know.

@kitterati @kyliehavelock @creafarrar

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