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Paralympic hero named among civil service’s new diversity champions

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Nine-time Paralympic champion Lord Holmes and former head of diversity at London 2012, Stephen Frost, are among four new advisers brought into tackle the UK Civil Service’s poor record on diversity.

Lord Holmes – Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer – will join Frost, Karen Blackett (CEO of MediaCom) and Helena Morrissey (founder of the 30% Club) in the four-strong group tasked with making the Civil Service “more representative of modern Britain”.

The appointments were made by cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, who is keen to increase the numbers of people in the workforce from under-represented groups.

Several studies have called the civil service’s track record on diversity into question. Current figures from the Office for National Statistics show that just 4.7 per cent of top civil servants are black or from an ethnic minority.

Another report by the government’s own Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2014 showed that, while just 7 per cent of the UK public attended private school, 55 per cent of Whitehall's permanent secretaries were privately educated.

“A diverse and inclusive workforce is proven to be more efficient and effective,” Heywood said.

“I want Stephen, Karen, Chris and Helena to take a no-holds-barred approach and tell us clearly where we can improve. I’m passionate about encouraging individuals from all backgrounds to aim high and achieve their potential too, and in doing so to help the civil service become a truly socially inclusive employer.”

The four will provide independent advice to ministers and the head of the Civil Service on the progress that is being made on diversity and inclusion.

Profiles: the civil service’s new diversity champions

Chris Holmes (Lord Holmes of Richmond)

Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, winning nine gold medals between 1988 and 2000. Former director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012, Holmes entered the House of Lords in 2013.

Stephen Frost Head of diversity and inclusion at London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) from 2008 to 2012, Frost was credited with achieving “unprecedented workforce inclusion” across the 200,000 staff base. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the most inclusive games ever, with 9 per cent disabled, 40 per cent BAME, 46 per cent female and 5 per cent LGBT staff. The Games saw mass participation by diverse groups.

Karen Blackett OBE

Chief Executive Officer of media agency MediaCom UK, Blackett has featured five times in the Power List of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People.

Helena Morrissey Chief Executive Officer of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club which campaigns to get women on boards. Recently been named one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In both 2013 and 2014, Helena was voted one of the 50 Most Influential People in Finance by Bloomberg Markets magazine.

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Nine-time Paralympic champion Lord Holmes and former head of diversity at London 2012, Stephen Frost, are among four new advisers brought into tackle the UK Civil Service’s poor record on diversity.
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