One of the UK’s largest employers has launched a new diversity strategy.

The Civil Service employs 532,000 people in Britain, and today the government announced action to “drive forward its commitment to promote diversity and equality within its workforce.”

The new strategy is designed to “embed diversity” across all levels of the Civil Service.

It is also a framework of commitments designed to help the Civil Service prepare to fulfil its duties under the government’s new Equality Bill, which for the first time include age, sexual orientation and religion and belief.

Speaking at a launch event at the Foreign Office this afternoon, Sir Gus O’Donnell, Head of the Civil Service said:

“I am delighted to announce the launch of Promoting equality, valuing diversity, a vital initiative for the future of the Civil Service.

“We have made significant progress in this field and our workforce is now more diverse than ever but we must not be complacent.

“I want the Civil Service to lead the way, among employers, in the way we value our people, invest in their development and create an inclusive culture.

“A diverse Civil Service which reflects the society we serve will enable us to deliver better public services.”

Minister for the Civil Service Tom Watson MP said:

“The Civil Service needs to be reflective of the diverse communities it serves and to become better at developing and delivering policies that include everyone in society.

“This new strategy is challenging and I look forward to seeing the results from the implementation of the plan across all departments.”

Civil Service statistics reveal that 8.3% of the permanent employees are from ethnic minorities, 6.7% have a disability and 52.9% are women, but has no figures on sexual orientation.

The new Equality Bill published last month includes proposals for all public bodies to promote equality for gay and lesbian people.

The Bill is intended to be an extension of the current duty on public authorities to actively promote equality into services like fostering, magistrates courts and health clinics, to make their services more accessible to lesbian, bisexual and gay people.