UK Government

Cabinet Office: Research shows Civil Service more diverse than ever before - Amended

Press Release   •   Jan 18, 2010 11:44 GMT

Civil Servants come from more diverse backgrounds than ever before - according to new research.

The new figures also show that in the very top jobs, contrary to many common perceptions, the vast majority of people went to state school – a higher number than in many other professions.

Alongside the publication of today’s research, the Cabinet Secretary has announced that, as recommended by the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions in Unleashing Aspiration, a survey will be conducted on the socio-economic background of all entrants to both the Senior Civil Service and the Civil Service Fast Stream.

Speaking about the results of this first survey into the socio-economic background of the top 200 Civil Servants, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell said:

“The Senior Civil Service is now more diverse and representative of our society than it has ever been – of those educated in the UK - nearly three quarters of our Top 200 were educated in state schools.  When you look at these figures, along with existing research, you see that our top leaders not only come from a more representative set of schools than those in many other professions, but they are more diverse in terms of gender, especially compared to those at the top of the private sector.

“We are committed to attracting the best talent from the widest possible pool of candidates.  We will continue to bring in – and bring on - talented people from all parts of society.  But, there is still more to be done and an increasingly diverse workforce is essential if we’re to meet the challenges of the future and that is why I have made it a priority for the Civil Service.”

In addition to today’s publication, recent figures about the whole Civil Service show there have also been great improvements in ensuring diversity in recruitment:

• The proportion of women in the Senior Civil Service has more than doubled since 1996.  More than 27% of the top management posts in the Civil Service are now held by women, compared to 12% of Directorships in FTSE 100 companies.

• Recent figures show that talented people who join the Civil Service at the most junior levels can aspire to and achieve entry to the Senior Civil Service.  Almost a fifth of internal entrants in 2008/2009 originally joined at the most junior administrative grades.

• The percentage of ethnic minority civil servants has increased by almost half between 1997 and 2008.

Notes to Editors
1) Full details of the Civil Service Diversity Story and new slides detailing the results of the first survey into the socio-economic background of civil servants can be found on the Civil Service website at:

2) For case study details about the Socio-Economic research into the Top 200, contact the Cabinet Office Press Office on 0207 276 2533.

3) For details of Unleashing Aspiration: Fair Access to the Profession report, contact the BIS press office.

4) The Government’s Response to Unleashing Aspirations can be downloaded from

Cabinet Office Press Office 22 Whitehall LONDON SW1A 2WH
Tel: 020 7276 0317, 0207 276 3472, 0207 276 0400

Out of hours telephone 07699 113300 and ask for pager number 721338


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