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Towards a more inclusive Science and Engineering Profession

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Dear colleagues,

2020 is going to be a year to remember. But not just because we are in the midst of a pandemic that has upturned lives. 2020 is also the Civil Service Year of Inclusion, the importance of which has only been further emphasised by the increased attention on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Diversity and inclusion is not an optional extra; it is the only way we can be truly successful in our work. The big scientific questions of our society can’t be answered effectively by monolithic thinking. Diversity of thought is an essential component to problem solving, but it has been overlooked too many times. This is why diversity and inclusion is a recognised priority for the GSE Profession Board.

It is clear that of COVID-19 has a disproportionate effect on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and this has emphasised race inequalities. I know that our BAME colleagues are worried for their safety and upset at the continuing injustices they face. Change is needed at all levels of the Civil Service, and I am acutely aware that many of you will look to senior leaders to start the conversation and set the direction in driving race equality.

I’m proud of the conversations I’ve seen in recent weeks about race and discrimination and its important to foster these valuable discussions. We need to build an honest and open culture in the workplace where we can continue and expand these conversations, regardless of how uncomfortable they may feel. We need to hear from our BAME colleagues about their lived experience and recognise the barriers to inclusion and equality of opportunity that they face. We must also make time to understand the intersections across diverse groups and be clear about the actions we will put in place to address them.

I want to see real, actionable change so I have asked Chief Scientific Advisers and Heads of Science and Engineering Profession (HoSEPs) to remain at the forefront of this, and lead discussions and put actions in place that address gaps in our representation of BAME staff, and promote equality by making all staff feel valued and included in our science and engineering community. As a first step, they have updated me on the ongoing work and plans in their areas that drive forward our diversity and inclusion ambitions, and I will be monitoring progress closely.

At profession level, we ran focus groups earlier in the year to capture views put forward by a cross section of members on what they want to see changed on the diversity and inclusion front. The profession’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Group, as part of its focus to drive continual and sustained improvements, are working on this to deliver a meaningful action plan that will result in tangible benefits for our members. We plan to publish our action plan later in the year, and if you would like to get involved in its development, please contact us at

These are the first of many steps we are taking to drive measurable change for the benefit of all of us working in the science and engineering community and beyond. I very much look forward to updating you on our progress towards a more diverse and inclusive GSE profession.

Patrick Vallance

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