Conversations: Connecting Diverse Voices launches in 2019

Blog post by Laurence Ainscough and Anusha Mata

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Communications professionals from across public services celebrate the launch of the second round of GCS’s diversity and inclusion focused mutual mentoring programme.

Image from the Connecting Diverse Voices event in 10 Downing Street

Conversations: Connecting Diverse Voices (CCDV) is a mutual mentoring initiative that encourages discussions on diversity and inclusion (D&I) with communicators and decision makers from across government.

Following a successful programme in 2018, the Conversations Connecting Diverse Voices (CCDV) mutual mentoring programme launched this year, and runs to December 2019. CCDV asks Senior Civil Servants (SCS) which areas of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) they feel least confident championing and connects them with the relevant experience and expertise to grow their knowledge and assurance. Simultaneously, it offers those who feel confident in championing their area, the opportunity to work closely with SCS, focusing on their professional and personal development. The programme focuses on a wide range of areas of D&I, including job sharing, disability, LGBTQ, BAME, lower socio-economic backgrounds, regional staff, ageism, mental health, care leavers, gender and apprentices.

On 21 March, GCS members from all grades, disciplines and backgrounds gathered at 10 Downing Street to launch the 2019 programme . Building on successes from the pilot and feedback from evaluation, CCDV were pleased to announce a more than twofold increase in the number of men joining the programme since last year, with increased awareness and interest from SCS. This has allowed for an even larger and more representative intake. There’s also increased focus this year on building a cohort of participants, with time dedicated to career mentorship and intersectionality in D&I.

CCDV leads, Anusha Mata and Laurence Ainscough, spoke at the event on taking the programme forward and their own experiences. Laurence spoke about his participation in the pilot, which you can read more about here.

The event also introduced CCDV Champions, Mark Funnell (Deputy Director of Communications, Defra) and Cheryl King-McDowall (Deputy Director of Professional Standards, Cabinet Office), and welcomed back CCDV joint-founder, Esme Castrillo-Dicks. Guest speaker, Noriko Suzumura, manager of Bloomberg’s Europe Middle East and Africa Analytics Department, spoke about her own experiences championing D&I in the private sector, and what she was still learning after 19 years there.

Read below for some key headlines from the event.

CCDV Works!

Following the close of last year’s pilot, all participants on the programme said they would recommend it to a colleague – and half of them are still working together. For example former participants Lisa Goering and Jennifer Webber are developing a “Civil Service Marathoner’s Toolkit” for people who have worked in the Civil Service for more than five years or who have been at the same grade for three years or more and want to gain some developmental experience.

CCDV offers a flexible structure that prioritises the individual needs of its participants. The programme enables both participants to develop a greater knowledge of chosen areas D&I, building confidence in both parties to act a champions in the GCS body and wider Civil Service.

The Government Communication Service is committed to D&I

D&I is a core principle of GCS 2020 and the ‘Raising the Bar’ portfolio of improvement programmes. The programme contributes to GCS’s strategic goal of being a communications profession that is representative of modern Britain; one that actively supports talented individuals to succeed regardless or race, ability, gender or background (GCS Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2017/2018).

In her speech, Cheryl King-McDowall highlighted the success of GCS’ D&I Internship and Apprenticeships programmes – the internship has received 480 applications this year, double the number from 2018, for 70 roles, and the apprenticeship has received 608, three times the number from 2018, for 41 places.

Everyone has a role to play in Diversity & Inclusion

True diversity and inclusion encompasses a huge range of intersecting identities, with CCDV’s cohort of mentoring partnerships coming together to discuss a multitude of areas. The importance of D&I in the workplace was illustrated by guest speaker Noriko Suzumura, who discussed her experiences at Bloomberg.

It’s easy for some people to feel that CCDV doesn’t affect them, or that they haven’t got anything to offer because they’re not ‘visibly’ diverse; but for the programme to be effective it should include voices from all backgrounds, and ensure that people are listening.

Having a range of voices is crucial to effective storytelling

Making sure that all voices are heard helps everyone. It also makes us more effective communicators, helping us to tell stories that resonate with everyone in society.

CCDV brings these diverse voices into the room and ensures that they are heard.

Sign up

We still do have some unmatched participants so if you are Grade 6/SCS or equivalent want to make your mark in D&I you can sign up.