Posted on August 21, 2023

Home Office Official ‘Has to Work 10 Times Harder Than White Counterparts’

Steven Edington, The Telegraph, August 19, 2023

A senior official told Home Office staff she has to work “10 times harder” than her white colleagues during a lecture discussing race.

The senior official told colleagues: “When we log in at nine o’clock, we already had to deal with a lot of psychological stuff just so that we need to give ourselves up to work. I have to work 10 times harder than my white counterparts, not getting the credit that I deserve.”

Dame Priti Patel told The Telegraph the comments were “divisive” and “insulting to the vast majority of civil servants… to suggest that because of the colour of their skin they receive better treatment”.

The former Home Secretary said: “Home Office officials should not be subject to lectures promoting critical race theory and radical rhetoric claiming some races have to work harder than others to succeed. This woke navel-gazing is divisive, disruptive and far from impartial.”

Experiences of discrimination

Last month, civil servants in the Migration and Borders Group (MBG) attended an awayday, held via Zoom, which featured lectures from members of the Race Action Board, a civil service group in the Home Office representing ethnic minority staff.

The senior official made her comments during a discussion of staff experiences of discrimination in the Civil Service, saying that because of her “protected characteristics… by the time I’m trying to log on to work at nine o’clock I’m already tired mentally, physically, emotionally”.

During the discussions, another public servant from an ethnic minority background said: “People who don’t look like me achieve different outcomes despite trying less and caring less.”

The senior official has worked across several different departments over more than a decade in Whitehall.

Data from the Home Office’s Race Action Plan, seen by The Telegraph, reveals that among senior civil servants in the MBG “15.9 percent identify themselves as being from a ethnic minority background, against 8.9 percent for the rest of the Home Office”.

The plan was launched by the MBG in February and aims to “re-galvanise the MBG race agenda” by the end of the summer, with initiatives including “improving the lived experience of colleagues”, setting up “listening circles” and organising a panel discussion to hear about why race matters.

‘Represent communities we serve’

On the same day that officials from the MBG were hearing lectures from the Race Action Board, the Government faced the prospect of a series of defeats to its Illegal Migration Bill in the House of Lords.

Although the MBG event was held in work time, it is understood attendance of the away day was not compulsory.

The MBG is responsible for the government’s flagship Illegal Immigration Bill, which faced dozens of amendments in the Lords earlier this month, as well as the Rwanda plan, which is currently being challenged in the courts.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We want the Home Office to reflect and represent the communities we serve. We keep our diversity and inclusion policies and programmes under constant review to ensure they meet the needs and priorities of the department and our people.”