MoJ wins award for excellence in recruitment

The department has been singled out for its approach to increasing diversity
MoJ. Photo: Adobe Stock

By Jonathan Owen

15 Jan 2024

The Ministry of Justice’s targeting of veterans and former prisoners for jobs, as part of a wider recruitment drive to increase diversity, has won the department the 2023 Commissioners’ Mark of Excellence.

The Civil Service Commission, an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Cabinet Office, seeks to ensure civil servants are selected on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.

Its Mark of Excellence scheme, launched in 2022, recognises innovation and commitment in recruiting outstanding candidates across all grades into the civil service.

In 2023 the award focused on recognition of the recruitment of external candidates who may not have previously considered becoming civil servants.

The MoJ beat 18 other departments and agencies that submitted entries for the award, with its innovative approach to recruiting for different roles across the country.

A prison officer recruitment campaign that directly addresses the reality of working in prisons is one example of this approach. Others included targeting veterans to provide new recruits for the prison and probation services, as well as setting targets to increase the recruitment of former prisoners into the civil service.

Baroness Gisela Stuart, first civil service commissioner and chair of the commission’s judging panel, said: "The purpose of the Mark of Excellence is to showcase some of the great work we see going on across government, highlighting innovative and thoughtful initiatives that attract strong and diverse fields of candidates for civil service jobs.”

The panel was impressed by the MoJ’s commitment and consistency in externally advertising roles, particularly at senior civil service level, the range of initiatives in place to support candidates who are new to the civil service, and its work to upskill existing staff.

Five other departments or agencies were highly commended by the judges: the Home Office, Intellectual Property Office, Government Legal Department, Office for National Statistics and the Scottish Government.

However, Stuart described the MoJ’s entry as “truly excellent” and said: “For a broad range of roles right across the country they have focused hard on how to attract, encourage, and retain applicants who may never have thought of becoming a civil servant. The team have tried different and new ways of doing things within the commission’s principles ensuring appointment on merit after fair and open competition.”

She also praised the MoJ’s TV advertising campaign to recruit prison officers, which depicts “human stories of prisoners and staff to address common misconceptions of working in these extraordinary roles.”

The department has also “put together a range of materials to help turn people ‘thinking about it’ into applicants and to help retain successful applicants within the civil service,” Stuart said.

“Their entry also highlighted a strong programme for interchange, supporting the government’s ‘porosity’ and skills agenda," she added.

The MoJ was highly commended in 2022 and Stuart said the department's victory this year "is a credit to their consistent work leading the way in government on external recruitment.”

The judging panel, chaired by Stuart, included entrepreneur and civil service commissioner Atul Devani and civil service chief people officer Fiona Ryland.  

Winning organisations can display the award logo on all their recruitment advertisements for one year and will be taking part in an online event to share their approaches with recruitment teams across the civil service in the spring.

Responding to the news, MoJ perm sec Antonia Romeo said: “It’s fantastic news that the MoJ has been recognised for our continued commitment to best practice in recruiting highly talented people and developing their capability.”

She added: “Winning the Mark of Excellence highlights the efforts MoJ colleagues have made in designing innovative recruitment initiatives aligned to our ambitious agenda, and ensuring a career in the MoJ is one of the most rewarding in government.”

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