Diversity and inclusion in the age of hybrid working

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April 29, 2021

Diversity is important in any organisation, with plenty of research showing how diverse teams outperform more homogenous counterparts. And for civil servants to successfully design and deliver policies and programmes, they must reflect the communities they serve.

Over recent years many governments have broadened their workforces and boosted minority representation in senior roles, but traditional working practices have hampered progress – with office-based roles and rigid working hours, for example, disadvantaging disabled people and those with caring responsibilities. Now the global shift to remote and flexible working presents a new set of opportunities – both for skilled applicants whose responsibilities, disabilities or locations won’t fit around a 9-5 office job, and for civil service recruiters able to fish in a bigger pool.

Organisations’ responses to the crisis also bring risks, however: where recruitment processes are rushed or set aside under emergency procedures, for example, equity can suffer. At this Global Government Forum webinar, civil servants and external experts discussed the pandemic’s implications for civil service diversity – mapping out a way to realise the potential, whilst avoiding the pitfalls.


Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.

Lalitha Stables, Head of Partnerships and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead, EMEA Public Sector, Google Cloud

Sri Lankan born Lalitha Stables has 21 years of experience in Enterprise Software Sales. She specialises in establishing alliances and helping customers and partners drive data-driven digital transformation with the power of the cloud. Currently, she is the Head of Partnerships and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead for Google Public Sector EMEA.

Lalitha is passionate about building high-impact teams and devotes her free time to initiatives that advance the representation of marginalised communities in the workplace. Improving people’s outcomes is at the heart of Lalitha’s purpose, and leveraging technology to further the public sector’s impact is her passion.

Emma Green, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, United Kingdom

Emma is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at BEIS, and leads a team delivering the D&I strategy across the Department.

Emma has been a D&I specialist for nearly ten years, working at organisations like Tate and the National Union of Students. Her favourite professional moments so far have included creating a national women’s mentoring programme for aspiring political leaders in education, supporting the blockbuster Queer British Art exhibition, and helping BEIS introduce and meet specific goals for representation of Black staff at SCS.

When she’s not working (and outside of the current context) you’ll tend to find her making things out of wood or playing roller derby (although not necessarily at the same time).

Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora is an experienced senior public official, having worked at Statistics Canada for over 25 years leading significant programs and transformations. He was appointed Chief Statistician of Canada in September, 2016. He has also served in policy and regulatory roles in the Government of Canada at Natural Resources Canada and Health Canada. Mr. Arora has led substantive international initiatives, working with the United Nations and the OECD, and received numerous prestigious awards for leadership. He serves on a number of Boards and is active in community events and social causes. Mr. Arora received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, with subsequent studies in computer science. He holds a graduate certificate in public sector management and governance from the University of Ottawa and the Government of Canada’s Advanced Leadership Development Program.

Géraldine Dufort, Principal Adviser – Diversity and Inclusion Office, Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security, European Commission

Géraldine Dufort studied Business Administration in France and started her career in the banking sector in Melbourne and Madrid. Géraldine joined the European Commission in 1999 in the Human Resources Department in Brussels. She worked in recruitment, career management and learning and development.

From 2004 to 2010 Géraldine was posted to 2 EU delegations (Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo and Washington – United States). She also worked as a development counsellor.

From 2017 to 2021, she was seconded to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid where she worked on promotion of Spanish presence and influence in the EU institutions. Since April 2021, Géraldine is currently the Head of the Diversity and Inclusion Office in the Commission’s HR Department.