Do you want to be a part of the next GCS Shadow Board?

First established more than five years ago, the GCS Shadow Board offers communications professionals at Senior Information (or Executive) Officer level and above, the opportunity to view the inner workings of the highest level of government communications – a chance to see how it all ticks.

GCS Shadow Board members get an overview of cross-cutting, government-wide priorities by participating in the monthly ‘Directors of Communications Group’ meetings. All current members have been given a regular platform to have their voices heard, with a seat at the table (or a tile on a Zoom screen), as well as the unique chance to offer different perspectives and increase the diversity of thought.

The latest cohort has come from many different walks of life, some work in large central government departments, while others are employed in arms-length bodies. Some have been civil servants for many years, while others are fairly new to the service having joined from the commercial or charity sector. They are a mixture of seniority levels, some work part-time and have caring responsibilities while others work full-time.

The board’s strength is built on its collective experience and knowledge of issues impacting culturally and ethnically diverse communities, as well as gender equality, social mobility and accessibility matters. But over and above this, the board gives its members the opportunity to build a network of peers who can bounce ideas off one another, support and develop shared leadership skills and collectively shape and create change in government communications.

GCS Shadow Board members share a passion for championing equality, diversity and inclusion, a determination to help recruit, retain and develop a workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve and a commitment to supporting each other along the way.

Here’s what current members have to say about being part of the board.

Laya Suseelan, Senior Communications Manager, Commission for Countering Extremism:

“The protests that took place last year following the horrific murder of George Floyd, gave a platform for honest and frank conversations to start taking place in the workplace around race, diversity and inclusion. It’s important that we continue to have these conversations, to ensure that public communicators truly reflect the lived experiences of the diverse society it serves. Being a board member has allowed me to have greater insight into the inner workings of government communications. The board has been able to have input into the GCS diversity and inclusion action plan, share views on considerations that need to be taken in the phased return to work plan, as well as contributing to Directors of Communication meetings on Reshaping GCS and other programmes. Most importantly I’ve also forged a great new support network with my fellow board members which has been invaluable.”

Natalie Corney, Deputy Head of Corporate Communications, Crown Prosecution Service:

“The Shadow Board for me has essentially been a supportive group of fantastic people who have helped further my awareness and understanding around many different challenges colleagues are facing – from both a personal perspective, and in terms of communicating with our audiences. Together, we have been able to use our collective knowledge, understanding and experience to directly share our views with Directors of Communications. This has been a really positive experience and having seen some changes as a result demonstrates that as a Board we have been able to make a difference.”

Tanya Clarke, Head of Transition Media and PR Strategy, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs:

“Events in the last year have shown the need for more conversations and action around diversity and inclusion, that is why championing equality matters and is at the heart of what I do. When I come to work I bring the whole of me, including the fact I am a woman, of Caribbean origin and from a low-income family. I volunteered to be on the GCS Shadow Board because diverse voices are needed in the room, otherwise we have failed in having a profession that truly reflects the UK. The Shadow Board has and continues to be afforded opportunities to be a part of discussions that then go on to shape the GCS. The role is one where the board is responsible for challenging and holding Directors of Communications to account, whilst being a collective voice for those who feel underrepresented.”

Michael Stewart, Events and Communications Manager, Judicial Office:

“I have worked in Government Communications for 15 years and have seen it grow and progress greatly in that time. I believe the GCS can create a more diverse and inclusive government communications profession by listening to the voices of a wide range of all its members. That’s why initiatives such as the Shadow Board are so important, and why I wanted to be part of it. Everyone will have a different perspective, view, level of experience and by discussing and sharing those we can all work together with the Directors of Communications. This can be a vibrant and creative profession and those in it should reflect that by being able to bring different ideas and enthusiasm.”

Susie McShane, Senior Campaigns Manager at Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport:

“I applied to be part of the GCS Shadow Board as I want to play a role in helping people of all backgrounds to see the civil service as a career path for them and to help ensure that we are reaching the people we serve through our communications. I hope that by having a seat at the table, the board has helped to increase the visibility of diversity as well as its influence. Working at the coalface of communications, our network offers different perspectives and experiences to help further develop our understanding of target audiences and how to reach them in new and innovative ways.”

If you wish to be considered for the opportunity to be part of the next GCS Shadow Board, please fill in the form on our volunteering section (GCS members only). The deadline for applications is Monday 2 August.

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