In 2018 the National Audit Office (NAO) launched a new Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy for the three years to 2021 and refreshed our D&I governance to provide a stronger framework of accountability. These developments are designed to accelerate our rate of progress in areas where we have made less tangible impact, help support our aspiration to build a diverse talent pipeline and create a culture of fairness and inclusion.
Our D&I Annual Report 2018-19 focuses on our achievements in the first year of our new strategy and we have much to be proud of.
Over the last 12 months we have made a number of changes to our trainee attraction and selection process to further improve the gender, ethnic and socio-economic balance of our trainee pipeline, building on an already strong position. We are closely monitoring the impact of these changes on further enhancing the diversity of our pipeline and will consider additional actions where necessary. We have also made good progress on strengthening the gender pipeline to middle management, which is reflected in a reducing gender pay gap, and have taken positive steps to ensure we continue to see no significant difference in the distribution of higher performance ratings by gender and ethnicity. And we have continued to work closely with all our employee networks, enhancing their role in supporting staff, shaping office initiatives and informing policy development.
However, we continue to face challenges to improve diversity at senior levels, which we recognise is a longer-term goal, and to make tangible progress in enhancing the workplace experience of disabled colleagues. We also recognise more needs to be done to equip our line and assignment managers with the confidence and competence to be inclusive leaders.
We continue to publish studies which highlight inequalities in the way public services are delivered, for example our report on supporting disabled people into work, and our study into the impact of Universal Credit on vulnerable claimants.
Over the past 10 years as head of the NAO I have seen the positive impact a more diverse and inclusive working environment can have on our people and on our ability to support Parliament and help improve the delivery of public services. I believe our new strategy puts the NAO in a strong position to achieve our diversity ambitions. I have no doubt that as the NAO goes forward under its new leadership it will continue to embrace difference and create opportunities which harness the rich diversity and unique qualities of all our people.
6 June 2019