The Commission hosted an event this week for recruiters and headhunting firms who work with government departments, aimed at increasing understanding of its work and championing diversity in senior recruitment to the Civil Service.
Melanie Dawes, the Civil Service diversity and inclusion champion, and Richard Heaton, the Civil Service race equality champion, joined Commissioners Natalie Campbell and Joe Montgomery along with Joanne Abeyie from Blue Moon Recruitment (an inclusive executive search consultancy) for a lively and informative panel discussion on recruiting and growing diverse talent in the senior levels of the Civil service.
"I’d like to thank all those who came along on Thursday evening. As the regulator chairing almost 200 competitions at senior levels across government each year, we’re keen to share our experience and hear from others about what really good diverse recruitment practice looks like in the Civil Service.Natalie Campbell, Civil Service Commissioner
Executive search has a major role in helping departments find and attract talented candidates from a wider range of backgrounds. We want to play our part, working with search firms employed by departments, to help the Civil Service achieve its aim to be the UK’s most inclusive employer, with a workforce that reflects the whole of British Society.”
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As well as its Commissioners personally chairing panels for recruitment processes at the senior levels, the Commission must check that external recruitment carried out within departments and agencies is compliant with our Recruitment Principles.
We do this through an in-house audit of the recruitment practices of over 70 departments and agencies, which identifies any breaches or poor practice, as well as good practice. We look at recruitment documentation to ensure that the organisation is recruiting in a compliant manner.
At the end of the compliance period, we consider all organisations and give them a rating. As part of that process, the Commission looks at any breaches or poor practice identified over the year, whether at audit, as result of complaints received by the Commission or in the course of our day to day contact with organisations. We also look at any challenges faced by the organisation as well as any positive actions being taken, and their Civil Service Code and diversity figures. Our final step is to moderate all of the ratings for consistency.
The ratings for the period 2018/19, which can be found in our annual report and on our website, are decided not with a formulaic approach but based on an informed judgement. While some poor practice and specific breaches were identified, the Commission retains confidence in the ability of all organisations we regulate to carry out external recruitment and does not believe that any require significant regulatory intervention at present.
Jan Cameron, Chair of the Commission’s Compliance Group, said:
By taking our auditing in-house and our team visiting each organisation in person, it is much easier for us to identify organisations who need additional help or advice or would benefit from further training.
There are some key lessons for all departments and agencies to continue to focus on – for example, the importance of keeping good records, following the advertised process and ensuring that appointments made by Exception comply with the Recruitment Principles.
As well as highlighting avoidable breaches and common mistakes, we saw some examples of excellent recruitment practices and we are considering how we can share this good practice more widely.
In July, the Commission welcomed three sixth formers from Oaks Park High School in Ilford for work experience. Aarti Soba, Strategy Officer at the Commission arranged a programme of events and meetings to introduce Anjalina Seehra, Gurnek Virk and Zayaan Khan, all aged 17, to the work of the Commission and the other independent offices the team supports. Anjalina Seehra said the work experience helped bust a few myths about the Civil Service for her:
The Commission, (understandably) isn’t just filled with middle aged white men like the stereotypes of the government sector. Instead what I found was a group of diverse, hardworking individuals, who socialise and who I could realistically look up to.Anjalina Seehra, Work Experience Student
The CSC is super important. The recruitment process has to be fair, open and merit based, and the CSC make sure this happens. That means that everyone has the right to apply to become a civil servant no matter the ethnicity, background or sexuality. This, in our very fast developing world, is crucial. Also, by attending Civil Service Live I have been exposed to all of the different sectors that take part in maintaining government policies and that keep the country together. CS Live was an amazing opportunity to get an insight into the trade unions as well as sneaking out loads of freebies.
Gurnek Virk felt he gained some useful career advice from his meetings with the senior team:
Ian Watmore, the First Civil Service Commissioner, taught me a valuable lesson while talking me through his career journey - that evidence is very important and is better than conceptualised ideas and is the basis of everything. I also met with Pete Lawrence, Senior Civil Servant, who helped changed my perspective – that interviews aren’t as daunting as I thought and that the panellists are only trying to get the best out of me. Lastly, I met with Peter Riddell, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, he broadened my knowledge about Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev, and he also gave me a further insight into various leaders he has been acquainted with in his previous career as a journalistGurnek Virk, Work Experience Student
I felt nervous that I would find the environment intimidating, as I had assumed the government sector to be quite a serious and inaccessible field, this was immediately resolved by the office’s warm atmosphere and welcoming staff.”Zayann Khan, Work Experience Student
On Thursday, we went to the Parliament to sit in the House of Lords with Baroness Angela Browning and have a discussion about our future interests and any advice she had for us at this stage of our life. This was a great session as it showed us we should do what we love and pick up different experiences as it can greatly assist us for our future jobs or roles.
Also, I have to mention that meeting with some of the Senior Civil Servants and Commissioners such as Ian Watmore, Rosie Glazebrook, Peter Riddell and having a discussion about their careers was also quite fascinating as it demonstrated how careers can change and fluctuate, which can be a big part of your future.
I recommend this work experience placement to anyone who is considering looking around different places for their future, as it is a great insight into how different departments in the government function and to see whether this sector would be suitable for you, or not. It has been incredibly helpful in showing a genuine experience of working in this field and has reaffirmed my interest in joining a department similar to this after university.
The Commission team thoroughly enjoyed hosting these bright and engaged young people and would like to wish them well for their future careers.
"Life Chances Schemes are good for diversity of the Civil Service and for communities"Ian Watmore, First Civil Service Commissioner
The independent Civil Service Commission, which regulates Civil Service appointments to provide assurance that they are made on merit after fair and open competition, published its annual report for 2018-19 today and highlighted its work supporting Life Chances schemes in Civil Service recruitment.
The annual report contains a range of statistics and information about the Commission's work including:
"I am incredibly proud that in 2018 the Civil Service Commission shared a national Civil Service innovation award for our Life Chances programme relating to the direct employment of ex-offenders into the Civil Service.
As one of the Commission's four strategic priorities, last April we revised our Recruitment Principles to enable and encourage Departmental Life Chances schemes designed to boost the employability and skills of disadvantaged groups such as military veterans, ex-offenders and care leavers.
Offering roles to people like ex-offeners who otherwise would not have applied to the Civil Service, let alone secured a role, is clearly good for those individuals, good for communities who are protected from the risk of reoffending and it is good for the Civil Service which gets committed and talented employees, with a different set of experiences, thus improving public services and being more representative of the society they serve.
We also made a number of changes to improve diversity in recruitment and help the Civil Service obtain the skills needed in these testing times as well as auditing recruitment across 71 Departments for open and merit-based processes for appointment.
We will continue to be innovative across a range of challenges in 2019, whether in educating departments and improving their regulatory compliance; helping departments to improve diversity in areas such as ethnicity, disability and social mobility; promoting civil servants' understanding of the Civil Service Code and values; and continuing to take their complaints seriously when they see breaches.
I am grateful to my colleagues for their continued hard work this year, enabling the Commission to play its part in helping maintain an efficient, effective and impartial civil service, with the necessary skills to deliver the agenda of the government of the day. "Ian Watmore, First Civil Service Commissioner
Notes to Editors
The Commission has produced three short, informative films below. These will help you to better understand what the Commission is, what the Recruitment Principles are and how the Civil Service Code works. Scroll down to view!
Working with the Civil Service to support initiatives to boost the employability of individuals with limited ‘life chances’ is one of the Commission’s strategic priorities for 2019.
The Commission’s support for a joint Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice project in the North West of England, helping ex-offenders back into work, already led to an Innovation Award at the 2018 Civil Service Awards in October.
To drive this area of work, the Commission has established a Life Chances Working Group, comprised of Commissioners Rosie Glazebrook (Chair), June Milligan and Jane Burgess, and Secretariat staff Peter Lawrence (Chief Executive), Bill Brooke and Aarti Soba.
The Group’s planned programme of activities will include promoting and explaining the Exception to the Commission’s Recruitment Principles (PDF, 16 pages, 269 KB) which is specifically designed to accredit programmes to help individuals whose circumstances make it difficult to compete for Civil Service appointments on merit on the basis of fair and open competition without further work experience and/or training.
Currently, there are seven programmes are accredited under the Exception and the Commission is keen to support other Departments who are developing ‘life chances’ schemes.
If you would like to find out more about what the Commission is doing, or you are working on a ‘life chances’ scheme and would like to know more about Exception 2, please get in touch on email@example.com.
The Commission held two Open Events on 4 March to demystify the recruitment process for senior roles and help potential applicants understand how Commissioners carry out their role ensuring open, fair and merit-based recruitment.
Commissioners Jane Burgess (seen speaking in the photo above), Natalie Campbell, Rosie Glazebrook and June Milligan took participants through the various elements of the recruitment process and revealed useful hints and tips about what panels are looking for when recruiting to senior roles in the Civil Service.
“We were delighted with both the turnout for these events and the engagement from the audience. Lots of thoughtful questions and genuine interest in finding out how to best prepare for the process for senior Civil Service roles. Given the enthusiasm and interest, our team are planning another event for the Autumn – watch this space.”Jane Burgess, Commissioner