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Opening virtual doors

Partnering with the Naz Legacy Foundation

The team at FCDO Services believe in maintaining a diverse and consciously inclusive workforce, creating an environment where everyone can thrive. To achieve that though, we also have to be inclusive in how we reach out to new talent, attracting brilliant people from all backgrounds and parts of society.

In 2020, the Civil Service’s Year of Inclusion, we’ve really put that effort to the forefront. In everything we do, we’re thinking about raising aspirations, reaching audiences who wouldn’t have considered us before, and making sure there are no barriers to working with us. As our Talent Outreach Lead says: “We’re focussed on being accessible to all, in a conscious effort to remove social barriers. We want to encourage applications from all, regardless of their background and with a focus on their potential.”

One example of that is our recent work with the Naz Legacy Foundation. Founded to continue the legacy of Naz Bokhari OBE, the first Muslim head of a UK secondary school, the charity have helped over 1,000 young people to expand their prospects. Seeking out participants from socially excluded communities, the Naz Legacy Foundation programme helps them explore cultural institutions, learn about different career paths, and discover new possibilities.

“We wanted to run a day with FCDO Services because of the value in introducing diverse young people from minority communities and deprived areas to the vast range of STEM-related career opportunities that FCDO Services provides.”

We were proud to play a part in that effort this October, running a joint event with the Naz Legacy Foundation where we opened our virtual doors to 53 young people, aged 14-16, living in disadvantaged parts of London. Our event would mean that, no matter their school or their background, these young people could get insight into FCDO Services, the wider Civil Service, and exactly what our work involves. Together, we’d open our attendees’ eyes to a career path where they could protect people, information and government buildings around the world every day. As the Naz Legacy Foundation’s Programmes Co-ordinator points out: “We wanted to run a day with FCDO Services because of the value in introducing diverse young people from minority communities and deprived areas to the vast range of STEM-related career opportunities that FCDO Services provides. Hearing about apprenticeships schemes like those offered here can be invaluable for young people to develop ideas and raise their aspirations for the future.”

So what did we get up to during the session? Well, we started with a speech from our Chief Finance Officer, who wanted to reassure our attendees at an often-uncertain point in their lives. She inspired them with her own personal career path, showing them that it’s alright not to have a clear career in mind from a young age. As she explained, what’s important is that you study what you enjoy, follow your passions, and use that to open up opportunities.

As the Champion of our Race and Ethnicity Network (REN), our Chief Finance Officer also spoke eloquently to the young people involved about our dedication to increasing diversity across FCDO Services and our commitment to supporting one another.

Next up came an eye-opening presentation from one of our officers in UK NACE. They highlighted the vital work their team do in everything from threat intelligence to counter-eavesdropping. It was even the chance to give the students some advice on their own personal safety online, building their practical knowledge. To quote one of our participants;

“I learnt how much more we need to do to protect our information and ourselves.”

Critically though, whilst talking about the roles we offer here, our UK NACE officer also talked about their own experience, having previously worked in catering before making the switch to become an apprentice with us. Proof that, even if the students didn’t have any relevant experience yet, they could still pursue careers with us .

One of the biggest things we wanted to achieve through the session was to break down knowledge barriers.. As much as we can, we want to reach out to those who don’t have experience of what government bodies do, the roles they play, and the careers they offer.

With that in mind, we were pleased to see we made a real impact on our attendees, helping them understand and access our world. While 60% of them hadn’t heard of FCDO Services before we started our presentation, feedback after the session was that 72% now felt more informed, not just about us but about the role of the Civil Service more broadly.

Expanding the students’ knowledge of the public sector doesn’t just benefit them though; it’s also helping us to create a diverse pipeline of inventive, driven colleagues. Like our UK NACE officer said after the session: “The best people to talk to are those who don’t know we exist. As we aren’t well-known by potential candidates, it’s really important to engage with as diverse an audience as possible to find our future workforce. We need people who can think differently and who are self-motivated to innovate and develop our capabilities.” 

“The session made me realise that there are other occupations I haven’t heard of, so I want to research more.”

Equally importantly, we also showed the students a range of different routes into careers like ours – from the experience of our UK NACE officer as a former apprentice, to discussion of the apprenticeships and entry-level roles we offer today across a variety of departments. It meant students could clearly see a variety of paths into our organisation, and understand the sometimes-surprising skillsets of our colleagues. Like one student put it, “The session made me realise that there are other occupations I haven’t heard of, so I want to research more.”

So, would they join us in the future? We certainly hope so. Impressively, 20% of the attendees – most of whom had never heard of us before – were converted by just one session with us, saying they’d be keen to pursue FCDO Services careers further. We’d be glad to have them back with us too. In the words of our Talent Outreach Lead, “We would love to work with these young people again in the future, in the hope they’ll be able to visit one of our sites and consider applying for one our amazing apprenticeship opportunities.”

If you’re keen to know more about our outreach work and the inclusive environment we create for our colleagues, you can explore our Diversity and Inclusion work.