Mentoring and its importance for diversity and inclusion

Blog by Melanie Dawes at Civil Service Leaders, Diversity and inclusion, 17 NOV 2016

I am coming to the end of my first year as Civil Service Gender Champion. So, as well as wishing everyone a successful 2016, it’s a good time to reflect on how the last 12 months have gone.

I hope there is no doubt across the Civil Service now about the commitment to diversity and inclusion from permanent secretaries and other senior leaders in all departments. We have published an ambitious new plan and all permanent secretaries have diversity objectives.

But even more important than the words is the action we are now seeing on so many fronts. New and expanded talent programmes; senior men working part-time and taking parental leave; face-to-face unconscious bias training, now the norm for leaders and managers; staff networks growing, developing and challenging. There is a buzz and an optimism about diversity and inclusion.

"Get a mentor!"
One of my favourite pieces of news in the past week was seeing MI5 top the Stonewall index of the best employers for lesbian, gay or bisexual staff (you kept that one quiet – but the secret’s out now!), and to see so many other civil service organisations in the list.

And one of my favourite new-year reads was the Civil Service blog of 13 January – containing 7 resolutions for better career health. I particularly support resolution number 6 – “Be honest with your leaders”. I was also glad to see number 5 – “Mentor someone, get yourself a mentor, or both”. Over the past year, as I have met civil servants across many departments in my role as gender champion, the importance of mentoring and personal support has come up time and time again.

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