Civil service salutes diversity and inclusion champions

Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood announces individuals and teams winning 2017 awards

Sir Jeremy Heywood Credit: Dods

By Jim Dunton

13 Oct 2017

An outreach team that teaches disadvantaged schoolchildren about civil service career opportunities, a menopause support group, and a network aimed at making the security services more representative of the nation they protect are among the winners of the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2017.

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood today revealed the recipients of this year’s coveted awards – organised in conjunction with Civil Service World’s parent company, Dods Group, and which are now in their 11th year – at a ceremony held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A panel of judges including three permanent secretaries and the civil service chief people officer Rupert McNeil whittled down a shortlist of 35 to seven category winners.


The Ministry of Justice’s Schools Programme won the Championing Social Mobility Award for its work in helping to boost career aspirations among less-advantaged children. The programme targets schools where more than one in five pupils receive free school meals, and seeks to highlight job opportunities in the civil service – and various entry routes – using a series of short films in which a diverse group of MoJ staff tell their stories.

Winner of the Championing Gender Equality Award was the Environment Agency’s Menopause Group, which has become a cross-government network since it was established in 2015. The group has an online presence, where ideas and information can be shared, and where people can talk confidentially about their experiences. The group has developed a support pack to help start conversations and which includes information on workplace changes that can help women going through the menopause continue to perform well in their jobs.

A cross-government team set up by the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism won the Employee Network Excellence Award for its efforts to increase diversity in the security services. The Security and Defence Diversity and Inclusion Network brings the Ministry of Defence, FCO, Home Office, Cabinet Office, National Crime Agency, UK intelligence agencies, and the Department for International Development, together to address a recognised deficit and develop initiatives to remedy the situation.

MoD staff member Ross Woodward won the Championing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex Inclusion Award for his work in rallying support to tackle negative perceptions of the department as a “white heterosexual male-dominated environment” that was “not very diverse or accepting”. Woodward, who is chair of the MoD’s LGBT+ network “Sh..Out”, led the implementation of the Stonewall LGBT Straight Allies initiative across the department, which included a hugely successful launch event that left his network “overwhelmed” with people volunteering to be "straight allies". His work also secured additional funding for the project.

Department for Transport community rail team leader Kulvinder Bassi won the Championing Race Equality Award in recognition of 20 years spent leading the DfT’s Positive Support Group and as founder of the Civil Service Race Forum. In addition to growing the group’s membership base to almost 80% of the department’s black and minority ethnic headcount, Bassi has also created innovative awareness-raising programmes and helped to shape the evolution of the department’s staff networks.

HM Revenue and Customs staff member Cathie Eggett won the Championing Disability Inclusion Award in recognition of her passionate campaigning to raise awareness of the need for change within the department. Eggett works closely with HMRC’s Visually Impaired Working Group, providing regular testing support and advice to managers. She was instrumental in the creation of the Reasonable Adjustment Passport which is now used extensively across the whole civil service.

The Cabinet Secretary’s Inclusion Award for 2017 went to Cathy Ingram, of HMRC’s Debt Technical Office, in recognition of her work with vulnerable customers – often victims of domestic violence or suffering from mental-health issues. Ingram’s award saluted her efforts in developing materials and training programmes that shared her expertise with 100 colleagues, including managers, in the process helping to reshape policies and determine best practice.

Speaking at the awards to present the Cabinet Secretary’s Inclusion Award, Heywood congratulated all the winners and nominees across the seven categories.

He said that they came at an auspicious moment between this week’s publication by the prime minister Theresa May of the government’s race disparity audit and next week’s publication of the civil service diversity and inclusion strategy.

“This is a deeply significant moment for the civil service,” he said of the strategy. “It is fantastic piece of work, and I am very proud of it and we mean every single word of it.

“Today, between the audit and the strategy, it is right to celebrate the leadership of individual and inspiring people at these awards.”

In addition to Rupert McNeil, judges for the 2017 awards were: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport perm sec Sue Owen; HMRC perm sec Jon Thompson; Home Office perm sec Philip Rutnam; Yvonne Coghill, director of Workforce Race Equality Standard Implementation at NHS England; James Greengrass, executive director at HR consultancy Veredus; and Nasser Siabi, founder of assistive technology firm Microlink PC.

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