After almost four years in the role of Chair for one of the longest-running Civil Service-wide employee networks I have decided that the time is right to pass the baton on to someone else (not just because I’ve been watching too many Olympic relays!)
I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead this network and I couldn’t be prouder of the team and everything that they and the wider network have achieved over the last four years.
When I took over this role from Ollie Entwistle (a tough act to follow!) the workplace and the network looked very different to what we experience today. I never imagined that four years later we would be thriving in an online space, having delivered PrideON the biggest pride season we’ve ever done entirely via Zoom/Hangouts/Teams (to be honest I’m not sure Zoom even existed when I was elected and I’m certain it wasn’t on government IT security approved lists!).
What we’ve achieved
When I was elected John Peart and I consulted with you and set out priorities based on your responses to that consultation. The Network has delivered against almost all of those priorities, as well as picking up some additional projects along the way.
Before we switched to an online way of working we had secured funding to have a coordinated, official presence at each of the capital city Pride events across the UK. A huge project for a small group of volunteers and a first for the Civil Service, giving us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate just how great we are as a group of colleagues, with the added bonus of highlighting the work the Civil Service does for the LGBT+ public.
There is more to do on working with religious communities within the Civil Service but we’ve built much stronger ties with a significant number of the other cross-government networks. We’ve built up the number of allies engaged with us, supporting them to be more visible and active in their allyship. We’ve increased our membership to the point where we regularly have to review how to manage within the limits of the free software we use to send emails! We’ve created “spotlight on” role model profiles based around different parts of our communities, and we are working on a new programme to deliver events and products specifically with the women in our network in mind.
Most significantly of all we’ve gone totally digital, enabling our members across the world not only to access our events, products, comms and support but also to more easily create and run them. This has reduced the “postcode lottery” around the in-person events, and has created different, stronger connections across the whole country. It has also enabled us to deliver a mentoring programme that is frankly huge and is something I’ve been wanting to manage for a long time, finally with departments embracing video conferencing it is now achievable.
However none of this would have been possible without the support of the large number of volunteers that have got involved over the four years. Thank you to all of you, whatever your contribution has been, but particularly thank you to the regional team who did sterling work before the pandemic running events and creating local networks, and who pivoted to doing that online very quickly when the world suddenly changed. The biggest thanks of all though goes to the team of Vice-Chairs that have supported me over the last four years. Each of them has delivered above and beyond, demonstrating dedication, talent and dynamism that has been inspiring and which I know has made a difference to the working lives of every single member of this network.
My final thought
My final thought before I finish is this: this network is about all of us, it doesn’t work without the volunteers that get involved - as corporate contribution or in their own time – to make it the success that it is.
Please make the network your own – tell whoever replaces me what you want from it, and where possible help them to achieve that by volunteering your time and skills.