HMRC - champion of gender equality

HMRC is the UK’s tax administration. It makes sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services, and also helps families and individuals with targeted financial support. HMRC has 74 000 staff across the UK and women represent 58% of the workforce. HMRC is committed to ensuring that equality of opportunity is an integral part of all it does. Commitment to diversity is fundamental to all its transactions with customers and HMRC expects everyone in the organisation to understand and meet their responsibilities for gender equality and diversity to colleagues and customers. HMRC aspires to be the public sector’s employer of choice, attracting and retaining the best from the widest pool of talent, developing people to the level of their potential and inclination. HMRC recognises that good diversity and equality management helps to improve business delivery and customer service, bringing benefits for the organisation and its employees. HMRC’s Gender Equality Scheme 2010-2013 details gender equality objectives to meet the needs of our employees and our customers –both men and women. It provides a public commitment of our policy to eliminate all unlawful discrimination and harassment and to promote equality of opportunity between men and women.


Success in Action

HMRC values its customers and is constantly reviewing the way in which it provides its service.  As HMRC takes on a wider range of work, it is adopting new ways of working, with more flexible working patterns, to provide an enhanced service to customers. HMRC has recently made changes to the opening hours of its Contact Centres, improving customer service and allowing an extra 1.7 million callers to get help each year on queries including child benefit and tax credit entitlement.

Engaging with customers on a face to face basis enables HMRC to understand things from the customer’s perspective and leads to better service provision. Through outreach work at Sure Start Children’s Centres, staff from HMRC’s Benefits and Credits Team heard first hand the issues faced by customers in contacting HMRC by telephone and were able to provide practical solutions.

HMRC recognises that for many of its employees, there may be difficulties in combining child/adult care responsibilities with work and therefore offers support in a number of practical ways. HMRC offers a full range of flexible working options enabling staff to ask for a change of working pattern, including home/remote working or changing hours of work, in order to meet their domestic responsibilities. There are also various leave schemes including maternity, adoption, parental, paternity and special leave which includes breaks to care for dependants. HMRC also appreciates how expensive childcare can be and offers a Childcare Voucher Scheme which is open to men and women equally.  This allows significant savings to be achieved on childcare via a salary sacrifice scheme which gives exemption from income tax and national insurance contributions. Staff can also apply for support for additional childcare which can help them to meet the extra childcare costs incurred if they attend a training event outside their normal working pattern.

The Department has a Gender Staff Network which is open to all staff who have a real interest in Gender issues. The Gender Network has a Board-level Champion who ensures that Gender issues have a high profile at all levels of the organisation. In addition to the Gender Network, there is also a Senior Women’s Network and a BAME Women’s Group (for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women). All network groups provide a support role for staff on Gender issues and aim to improve customer service and job satisfaction while raising awareness of the barriers people face both in society and within the workplace. The Gender Staff Networks have made a positive impact by giving policy makers immediate access to staff who can consider policies from a gender equality perspective.

The Impact

Combined with flexible working options, improvements to internal and external recruitment systems have led to increases in the number of women in the Senior Civil Service (SCS) and at top management grades.  In 2011, women make up 32% of HMRC’s SCS and work continues to increase this number. In challenging economic times, HMRC remains firmly committed to gender equality.