Ollie Entwistle, Chair of CSRA, writes about CSRA’s first meeting with the new LGB&T diversity champion, Sue Owen.

Recently, Kate Scott-Hughes (CSRA Vice-Chair), David O’Connor (CSRA Networks and Policy Co-ordinator) and I met with Sue Owen, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and, the new Civil Service champion for sexual orientation. The aim of the meeting was to deepen Sue’s understanding of CSRA’s work and discuss the key issues facing LGB* civil servants. The topics we covered included the Civil Service Diversity Strategy, monitoring, role models, allies and how we can work together.

CSRA is very keen to build a constructive working relationship with Sue and we welcomed the appointment of a Civil Service sexual orientation champion.

Sue plans to meet with Departmental Boards to explore progress within their organisations on sexual orientation
equality and drive progress. We offered to support Sue with this.

We gave Sue a short update on CSRA’s priorities and plans for the year ahead. As part of this we highlighted the different issues that LGB* staff face. We also highlighted the importance of supporting staff across the UK and overseas, not just those who work in or near Whitehall.

We highlighted the importance of departmental LGB* networks and how we work together to ensure that LGB* staff are supported in the workplace. We also discussed the importance of staff receiving support from their management chain for their network activities.

A Civil Service Diversity Strategy has now been developed and, for the first time, it does include a specific section on sexual orientation. When published, this will represent significant progress as the previous strategies did not mention sexual orientation at all. The timetable for publication has not been finalised but a draft will shortly be put to Ministers for their consideration.

We spoke about the importance of monitoring by sexual orientation where Sue was able to share the latest high level statistics. Some Departments are performing very well, with the Home Office leading the way with a declaration of 99%. That is something for us all to aspire to!

We discussed the difficulties that we are having in obtaining a detailed breakdown of the Civil Service People Survey data, and, that we have not yet been consulted on questions for the new survey. Sue said that she will intervene to unlock this for us.

We discussed our forthcoming events including Pride events across the UK and our conference in the autumn. Sue agreed to speak at our conference and also joined us for Pride in London.
We agreed that we would meet quarterly to discuss issues but that we would maintain an open dialogue between meetings.

Overall, this was a very positive first meeting and we were delighted that Sue has also demonstrated her personal commitment to her new role by joining us at Pride in London. We look forward to a constructive working relationship with her.

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