To achieve our ambitious strategy we need high performing staff, drawn from as diverse and wide a talent pool as possible who work collaboratively together. Public services are delivered to a diverse society and we should, therefore, reflect diversity considerations in our value-for-money work where this will help our clients improve their services. As a public body we also have a legal obligation to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality and good relations in our own organisation.

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Our strategy aims to deliver a step change increase in the value we add through our work; an ambitious goal in an age of austerity when both we and our clients are striving to achieve more with less. Success will require the positive engagement of all our people and our diversity strategy is designed to ensure that we attract, develop and promote the best talent by removing any real or perceived barriers to progression.

This is the first annual report against our three year diversity strategy 2012-13 to 2014-15 which was launched in April 2012. We want to build on the progress we have made in previous years but must increase the pace of change in key areas where we have achieved less success. The key priorities include improving the retention and progression of ethnic minority staff and the higher representation of women in our more senior grades. These priorities sit within a broader action plan which is relevant to all staff groups.

The past year has been one of action, putting in place a range of initiatives including: an ethnic minority mentoring scheme; more proactive management of our talent pipeline; unconscious bias training delivered to all staff; and the launch of our new appraisal scheme which was in part prompted by our concerns about the previous scheme. Most of these initiatives inevitably take time to bear fruit and, combined with a freeze on recruitment and limited opportunities for promotion in 2012/13, probably explain the limited progress we have made towards our achieving our diversity targets.

Our Board and Leadership Team attach a high priority to making further progress against our diversity strategy and we will redouble our efforts to make progress this year. Ensuring we keep diversity at the forefront of our agenda has become even more important following the results of the 2013 staff survey which highlighted a number of concerns relating to diversity and equality of opportunity. We will ensure we analyse the survey results fully to understand the issues and, where appropriate, take action to meet our diversity commitments.

The Diversity Delivery Board which helps maintain our focus, is chaired by Gabrielle Cohen, a member of the Leadership Team and NAO Board, and includes a broad representation of staff from across the Office. The Diversity Delivery Board will continue to oversee the delivery of our new strategy reporting regularly on progress to the Leadership Team.

Amyas Morse

Comptroller and Auditor General

October 2013

Report published 14 November 2013


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