Dame Sue Owen shared lessons from the UK Civil Service
The UK Civil Service (the permanent administrative and implementation arm of the UK Government) has already come a long way from its traditional image as a club for public school and Oxbridge-educated white men.
Women, for example, now make up 54 per cent of the workforce overall, and occupy 45 per cent of senior positions. But as the recently retired Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Champion Dame Sue Owen told an Oxford Saïd audience on 4 December 2019, there is still work to do on increasing the proportions of people from non-white backgrounds and people who have disabilities.
Owen was speaking at the inaugural lecture of Oxford’s new Diversity and Inclusion series, sponsored by the Business School and by Oxford’s Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund. She drew on her experience as Permanent Secretary to the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) as well as her experience as Diversity and Inclusion Champion.
‘The thing that has really shifted the dial, particularly as the service has shrunk over the years, is the realisation that actually if you have a workforce that is representative of the population as a whole you are going to make better policy,’ she said. ‘You are going to deliver better customer service. And if people feel valued and included at work, they are going to perform better.’
So how and why had the Civil Service changed, and what advice would she give other organisations about improving diversity and inclusion?