UK: Government ‘Talent Action Plan’ aims to remove barriers for LGBT talent in Civil Service

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Government has announced a new ‘Talent Action Plan’, which aims to remove barriers to LGBT people reaching high ranks of the Civil Service.

The plan sets out to improve the skills of the Civil Service by removing the obstacles which have limited the numbers from various groups, including from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) communities.

The action plan hopes to ensure that the most talented people succeed and reach the top positions, regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or disability, and that reflects the diversity of the UK.

Despite some work having been done to ensure diversity, the plan notes that there is still much to be done.

In addition, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude is commissioning new research to examine the barriers faced by those with LGBT backgrounds. The results of this research, expected within the coming months, will inform an updated Talent Strategy within the coming year.

Measures in the Talent Action Plan include:

·         Making diversity and inclusion learning part of the formal induction process for all civil servants. All managers will be required to take an online course on “unconscious bias”.

·         Requiring all departments to nominate board-level diversity champions with the power to drive change

·         Identifying and championing role models in the Senior Civil Service with diverse backgrounds

·         Reviewing recruitment practices that can act as barriers to some groups

·         Promoting success, achievements and share best practice across the Civil Service on all aspects of diversity and inclusion. We will also benchmark our performance against the best in the wider public, private, voluntary and charitable sectors.  We will do this through ongoing membership of the recognised professional bodies, including the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: “To deliver excellent public services for hardworking families we need the best civil servants. But for too long, too many talented people have not had the opportunity to reach their full potential in the Civil Service. We are now examining the actual barriers faced by civil servants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered and will address them. We want the very best to succeed in the Civil Service, whoever they are – it’s all part of our long-term plan for a stronger economy.”
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said: “There is a strong moral and business case for a Civil Service workforce that truly reflects the society it serves. We have made good progress, but we can do better. This new Talent Action Plan restates our commitment – as a central plank of the Civil Service talent strategy – to build an inclusive and diverse Civil Service, with equal opportunities for all, and sets out new measures to ensure we recruit and develop civil servants on no other basis than their ability to do the job.”

The Talent Action Plan suggests that previous attempts to address diversity, particularly at senior levels of the Civil Service, had limited success because they did not deal with the actual issues. The solution, it says, is first to understand the barriers certain groups continue to face and then set about removing them.

That is why the Government has commissioned the most comprehensive research to date into the challenges facing four groups: women; ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people; and the disabled. The Talent Action Plan will be refreshed within the next 12 months, with additional actions as necessary, once the findings of all four reports are available.”