When I first received the invite for the DVLA diversity conference I thought the link between digital and diversity was a bit tenuous but as my role involves communicating digital change I was curious to understand more.
The day started with DVLA HR Director Phil Bushby introducing the event, talking about the DVLA commitment to diversity and the good work that’s being carried out to promote and support it internally.
DVLA CEO Oliver Morley then spoke about diversity and our audience. This is where the digital diversity message really hit home. At DVLA we are currently improving our services through digitisation and Oliver was clear that these services must be trusted, capable and easy to find. He emphasised that we must be digitally inclusive, taking into account the diverse needs of our audiences.
Oliver acknowledged the need to give them a choice of channels including ‘assisted digital’ options to support those with little experience of transacting online. Our customers also expect an integrated experience moving seamlessly between physical and digital channels. All of this of course needs to be done drawing on the diversity of our DVLA staff, ensuring that the customers we serve are represented within the business so that we are able to make informed changes to our services that really add value.
The presentations were separated with workshops on various digital topics and the first workshop I attended was on the agile methodology. Agile is something that is becoming commonplace within change delivery in DVLA and Agile Consultant Jim Frewin talked about what it was and how it can help you to deliver change. He used some fun, interactive group work to show how we could use agile to solve business problems in a short space of time creating our own ‘Empire State Buildings’. I think we all came away with the message that agile isn’t just for projects, it’s a mindset and can be used to deliver anything.
Following the workshops Dan Williamson, from our Customer Insight Team, talked about customer engagement and the importance of insight to determine the needs of the audience.
The morning was then rounded off with a video from Welsh Assembly Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates. Ken spoke about the challenge of delivering effective digital services at a local government level and the need for a joined up plan within the Welsh local authorities. It was nice to hear him use DVLA as an example of effective customer focused digital services with Electronic Vehicle Licensing at the forefront of this.
The afternoon started with Civil Service Learning's David Martin talking about the opportunities available for civil servants to increase their skills and capabilities with a number of electronic and classroom courses available. He was clear that all civil servants have a part to play in transforming our services and in developing their digital skills to achieve this.
Next up were Nicola Gill and Zach Johnstone from the Government Digital Service (GDS) Digital Inclusion Team. They explained their role in increasing the digital capability of the British public and their targets for doing this. They have carried out some great research on the current capabilities, which is important if they are to effectively focus on certain demographics in future. This was another area that really interested me because we will need to improve the digital skills of our workforce at DVLA if we are to build and support effective digital services in future. We will need to use a similar exercise to measure the digital skills and aptitude of our people if we are to target our resources effectively.
The final speaker of the day was the Head of Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake. Sir Bob echoed the sentiments of the day. As well as presenting the diversity awards he was clear about how diversity strengthens the civil service and that it is paramount that we are representative of the diverse British public we serve.
All in all it was a really good event, well organised and provided me with some ideas and food for thought to take forward in my role.