By Civil Service World

04 Aug 2022

A huge diversity of people and roles make up the modern civil service. Here, some of them tell us their stories

The civil service is changing.

Over the last decade it has become more diverse on almost every front, so that by March 2021 the proportion of women, disabled people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds in the civil service matched, or nearly matched, the wider economically active population.  

There is, of course, more to be done. Representation of minority groups at senior levels is still too low. Socio-economic diversity is a particular challenge and geographic diversity is still in its early stages.

Despite this, it’s true to say that the stereotype of faceless bureaucrats pushing pens in Whitehall has long gone. Civil servants come from all walks of life, and most of them work on the front line, delivering services to the public across the country in a range of important roles.

In this special report, CSW profiles officials from across the country to show the breadth of their work and diversity of their backgrounds.

This is the modern civil service.

'You need to be professional, trustworthy, and tolerate long hours inside the abattoir': what it takes to be a meat hygiene inspector

Stephen Holden, meat hygiene inspector, Food Standards Agency, Essex



'I view this job as the most important I have ever had' – working to improve the SEN system

Sidrah Chowdry, head of special educational needs policy, DfE, London



'Prison governors must be extremely resilient. There is no requirement to be tough'

Nicola Marfleet, prison governor, Milton Keynes



'We develop and coordinate ambitious new action across government to deliver on the net zero target'

Justin Placide, head of net zero governance and fiscal events, BEIS, London



'My visual impairment has informed our pandemic recovery planning': the work of a deputy chief exec

Paul Arnold, deputy chief executive, Information Commissioner's Office, Wilmslow



'Mask-wearing and remote working were very tough for deaf officials – but there are positive Covid-19 legacies too'

Lisa Baldock, associate digital user expert, DWP, London


'Talking to angry customers can be challenging and you can end up taking it personally. But your job is to solve the query'

Ioana Sur, customer service advisor, Cardiff



'My work is about helping bring about a safer, more equal and inclusive society'

Sean Finch, team leader and senior LGBT+ policy adviser, Government Equalities Office, Manchester


'I tried college, but it wasn’t for me. Now I help get people into work'

Anne Brewster, employee and partnerships manager, DWP, Scunthorpe


'I joined the civil service to make a difference and to be part of something bigger than myself': life as a diplomat in Poland

Crispian Wilson, diplomat, Warsaw



'I've work on some of the most important social issues facing the UK': reflections of a profession-hopping civil servant

Gillian Smith, deputy director of people and culture,HMRC, Croydon



'Little did I realise I would be working on some of the largest challenges of our lifetime from day one' – life as a commercial lead

Kobirul Islam, commercial lead, Home Office, London



'We’re here to lock up the bad guys': using forensics to foil fraudsters

Colin Smith, head of forensics, HMRC, London


'Chief design officers are pretty rare in government – here's why my role matters'

Cat Macaulay, chief design officer, Scottish Government, Edinburgh



'I imagined that life would be a lot like The Thick of It' – becoming a civil service apprentice

Teale Cunningham, apprentice, Defra, London


The life of a DIT director general: 'It’s all about people – but being a trade nerd helps'

Amanda Brooks, director general, DIT, London


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