GCS moves to stamp out discrimination as latest figures detail bullying and harassment across Whitehall

The coming months will see a renewed effort to stamp out discrimination, bullying and harassment within the Government Communication Service (GCS), according to its recently released diversity and inclusion strategy for the year ahead.

The GCS is taking steps to stamp out discrimination, bullying and harassment
The GCS is taking steps to stamp out discrimination, bullying and harassment

The strategy states that the latest civil service survey data "show that the GCS is one of the leading professions on inclusivity and fair treatment."

But it admits: "Further work needs to take place on discrimination, and bullying and harassment."


Also see: GCS launches diversity strategy as figures reveal BAME recruits occupy 12 per cent of comms roles


The GCS aims to create an "open, respectful working environment where concerns of bullying or discrimination can be safely raised and dealt with."

Getting all managers to take allegations of "inappropriate language, situations or practices" seriously is one of the stated objectives.

The GCS seeks to become a "diverse and inclusive place to work" where "different views are respected," according to the strategy.

Whilst the GCS has declined to provide details of the statistics it holds relating to comms professionals, its parent department, the Cabinet Office, is plagued by significant levels of bullying and discrimination.

A PRWeek analysis of the latest government data reveals that more than 200 members of staff at the Cabinet Office have complained about bullying or harassment – often at the hands of their colleagues – in 2016.

And one in ten people in the Whitehall department experienced discrimination at work – whether on grounds of race, sexuality or some other point of difference – last year.

This compares poorly to the Scotland Office, Office of the Advocate General, Wales Office and Northern Ireland Office combined – where just four per cent of staff have suffered discrimination.

However, it is better than some other major departments. Discrimination in the workplace has been reported by more than one in five workers at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary; Home Office: Immigration Enforcement; Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency; and the Scottish Prison Service.

The Home Office Border Force comes out as the worst, with 26 per cent of staff reporting being discriminated against, according to the 2016 civil service people survey.

Staff were asked if they believe that individual differences between people are respected where they work, with the Cabinet Office coming out at just 75 per cent, while the UK Statistics Authority rated best on this measure, at 91 per cent.

But the Home Office Border Force, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Defence Electronics and Components Agency, and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate all come out at 50 per cent or less.

One in ten people at the Cabinet Office were bullied or harassed in 2016. In contrast, the figure is one in 20 in the Attorney General’s Office – the best performing department on this measure.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary; Home Office: Border Force; Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency; and Revenue Scotland are among the worst-performing departments – with at least one in five staff reporting having been bullied or harassed.

The worst is HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, where the proportion is 32 per cent.

The new GCS strategy includes a pledge "to make communications directorates a great place to work where colleagues feel safe to share their views and concerns; are trusted, supported, valued and respected."

At the time of publication, the Cabinet Office had not responded to requests from PRWeek for comment.


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