HeForShe: Rob Neil OBE | Head of Project Race – HR People Group, Ministry of Justice

Rob Neil | MoJ's Head of Project Race - HR People GroupRob was born in Paddington, London and grew up in the London Borough of Brent.

He joined the Ministry of Justice [then Lord Chancellors Department] in Oct 1983 – starting at Willesden County Court in North London.

Rob progressed to Deputy Court Manager before joining the South Eastern Circuit I.T. Team. In 1998 Rob landed his dream job with Corporate HR as a Development Trainer. Rob studied at the Civil Service College for two years, gaining a Certificate in Training Practice [CTP] and is now a member of CIPD.

Rob was a founding member of the MoJ’s BAME Staff network in 2001, namely P.R.O.U.D. Later in that same year, Rob became the first elected Chair of the Civil Service Race Equality Network [CSREN] – known today as CSRF – the Civil Service Race Forum.

Over the past fifteen years Rob has continued his MoJ career in HR. As an original member of the MoJ’s Employee Engagement Team, Rob led the design, recruitment and launch of the Engagement Champions Network in 2008. As MoJ’s Head of Engagement Networks Rob was responsible for the development of Employee Engagement Champions [EECs] across the MoJ. This pioneering network now boasts over x1000 people across the entire MoJ Family – including; Courts, Tribunals, Prisons and the Legal Aid Agency.

In the summer of 2015 Rob was invited to lead the MoJ’s Diversity & Inclusion Team over the summer as temporary cover for four months. During this period Rob led the delivery of key priorities, including the Department’s response to the Civil Service Talent Action Plan and renegotiating contracts with all Diversity Staff Networks.

In April 2016 Rob was included in the ‘New View 50’ which recognises influential Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) professionals in the public sector.

In May 2016 Rob was chosen to lead the MoJ’s Race Project – an inward facing programme of work aimed at supporting the MoJ’s published Diversity & Inclusion objectives and turning the dial on race equality.

Most recently, Rob was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list for ‘Services to Race Equality in the workplace and the community’ and received his gong from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in May of this year.

Rob lives with his wife and their two children in Harrow.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I was brought up by my mother who was a single parent and one of my first role models.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Because men a disproportionally occupy positions of power where strategic decisions are made. So, if men don’t support gender quality, talented women will miss out, organisations will miss out AND the UK economy will suffer.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I know that men are welcome and I have experienced a significant improvement in those invitations for men to get involved directly.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Yep, any explicit reference to women or female in the title CAN give some men an excuse to stay away.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Remind that for inequality to continue all that is needed is for good men to do nothing and that the only thing worse than the wrong action is no action.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes and yes.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I have noticed that some women are more inclined to focus on they own perceived gaps in skill or competence, whereas most of the men I mentor lead any self assessment with a firm focus on their strengths.

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