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Diversity is the key to delivering public services effectively in the 21st Century

19 June 2009 

The Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, today set out his vision to keep building a more diverse civil service that is representative of the UK today and ready to meet any future challenges.

In a speech to the Civil Service Diversity Conference in London, the Cabinet Secretary stressed that increased diversity is a crucial factor in ensuring the UK emerges stronger from the global recession and can face any new challenges in the 21st century.

Sir Gus O’Donnell recognised that good progress had been made – women already make up more than half of the civil service and the number of Civil Servants from BME backgrounds is nearly double the level is was a decade ago.  But, he said more could be done and diversity would remain a key corporate priority, especially if the Civil Service is to get even better at understanding its customers.

Praising the work being done by Civil Servants across the country to meet the challenges of the recession, the Cabinet Secretary, said that becoming a diverse Civil Service was key to delivering the best public services for everyone.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service said:

"I'm proud to lead a diverse, inclusive Civil Service that has innovation and professionalism  at its core. Over half of all Civil Servants are women and we have nearly twice as many people from BME backgrounds as we did ten years ago, but we know there is more we can do which is why diversity is one of my corporate priorities.

"Across the country, Civil Servants are rising to current challenges, giving people the help they need and working to ensure that we emerge as quickly as possible from the global recession.

“To meet our future challenges we must continue to build a workforce that is representative of the public we serve, and that is passionate about making a difference to all parts of society, especially those hardest to reach. That is the kind of Civil Service that will be able to deliver excellent public services to all.”

Notes to editors

  1. Sir Gus O’Donnell was speaking at Capita’s 2nd Annual Civil Service Diversity Conference: Promoting Equality, Valuing Diversity.
  2. Women account for 53% of the Civil Service compared to 48% in 1997; 33.2% of the Senior Civil Service are women compared to 16.7% in 1996 and 26.3% of the top management posts in the Civil Service are held by women compared to 14.2% in 1999.
  3. 8.5% of the Civil Service come from BME backgrounds compared with 5.7% in 1997 and 3.7% of the Senior Civil Service coem BME backgrounds compared tp 2% in 1997.
  4. By 2013 the follow targets are set to be met:
    • 39% of the Senior Civil Service to be women.
    • 34% of top management posts to be held by women.
    • 5% of the Senior Civil Service to be minority ethnic staff.
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