Gerri Clement & Kate Lalor on the social mobility network's momentum and turning insights into action
As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories
Snowball effect: the cross-government network is picking up momentum. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA
What was your highlight of 2019?
Top of the list for big milestones would be this year’s inaugural cross-government conference on social mobility, held in June. There is real momentum and we are producing a plan setting out the next phase of action on social mobility within the civil service. Socio-economic measures are integrated into our annual People Survey and internal systems for managing staff information. The next stage is for us to further enhance how we use data. We want to use data to analyse how we attract, retain and develop staff once they are in the organisation. Senior leaders up and down the country are committed to taking action, which is reassuring, and we have champions and extensive support so we are in a great position now to really push forward this agenda and make a meaningful difference.
What has been the most significant change in your network this year?
The network brings together colleagues from across departments and arm’s-length bodies to share best practice, make ambitious plans and accelerate work on social mobility. It continues to grow both in terms of people and geographic coverage. We now have eight regional hubs across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with inter and intra connections across the whole of government. This includes departmental agencies and Civil Service Local, all feeding in their specific work ideas, contacts and expertise across boundaries. Our network’s ability to amplify voices and tailor activities to local areas has also been particularly successful.
"Our network’s ability to amplify voices and tailor activities to local areas has also been particularly successful"
We’ve got more departments being commended for their work by the Social Mobility Employer Index which shows the progress we are making. A special mention goes to the Ministry of Justice, which maintained a top 10 position. Some 15 other departments and agencies were listed in the top 75.
On top of that, DWP won the leadership of the year award at the Social Mobility Awards, HMRC won the award for programme progression, and MoJ won organisation of the year. It shows that we are moving forward despite the many complexities we face.
Gerri was shortlisted at the Social Mobility Awards this year for mentor of the year and is already looking at how else she can progress opportunities for talented people.
What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?
Collecting data on social mobility: we need to continue to work out how to capture more of it and use it to best effect, and to turn the insights into action that really benefits the civil service. We also need more staff of all grades to share their stories, inspire and normalise the concept of people from all sorts of backgrounds succeeding in the civil service.
Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...
Gerri: Being solo violinist for the Christmas assembly in Year 5.
Kate: Dressing up my newborn as an elf last Christmas.