Peter Lawrence of the Civil Service Commission on government's drive to become 'the nation's most inclusive employer'

Written by Civil Service World on 6 January 2020 in Feature

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

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What was your highlight of 2019?

It has been great to see momentum build within the civil service for the life chances work I’m doing, which supports people from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds into work. As well as raising aspirations for people from challenging backgrounds through opportunities they might never have otherwise had, I really believe the civil service gains from becoming a more inclusive and diverse organisation. At a personal level: becoming a grandfather again. Time to start thinking what toys I’d like for Christmas, I suppose… I mean of course what the boys might like!

What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?

Implementing the change to the commission’s recruitment principles, which means we can accredit departments’ schemes to support individuals to improve their future and help the civil service achieve its ambition to be the nation’s most inclusive employer. At the end of March only five schemes had been accredited during the previous 12 months. To date, I have been able to accredit 14 schemes supporting different groups of people into work: ex-offenders; veterans; veterans’ spouses; those leaving care; and individuals with Down’s syndrome or autism. More schemes are in development as well. It’s so worthwhile to see the impact it has for these individuals.

To date, I have been able to accredit 14 schemes supporting different groups of people into work

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

Managing my expectations of how much can be achieved through the life chances work and making sure we provide real job opportunities in the civil service for individuals who face barriers to employment.   

Although this work is still in its infancy, the key challenge will be coordination across, rather than competition between, a growing number of schemes successfully providing and filling as many opportunities as possible. Early preparation has included building a supportive network of officials leading these schemes, coming together to share successes, progress and challenges. Encouraging departments to have a shared vision will also pay dividends. There is growing demand from vacancy holders and candidates: we need to collaborate to get the right person in the right role, with the right support, when the organisation needs it. 

If 1% to 2% of all civil service appointments regulated by the Civil Service Commission – there were over 55,000 in the last financial year – were filled through an Exception 2 scheme this year I would be delighted.

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...

Making Christmas puddings with granny about 15 months in advance and excitingly feeding them alcohol with grandad when I visited throughout the year. They always flamed well on the day!

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