Paralympian and inclusion expert Claire Harvey appointed next chief executive

Friday February 3, 2017

Founder Suran Dickson begins handover for March start date

The new chief executive of Diversity Role Models will be diversity and inclusion expert, Claire Harvey, who joins the charity from KPMG. Her appointment follows founder Suran Dickson’s decision to return home to New Zealand after 14 years in the UK.

Also known as a GB Paralympian, Claire developed her expertise in diversity and inclusion through roles in the Criminal Justice System, Financial Services Authority and Youth Sport Trust. She started her career in the prison service. After eight years as a fast-tracked prison governor she joined the Ministry of Justice to lead policy on young adult offenders. Most recently, she led KPMG’s two-year progression from 156th to 10th in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

Commenting on Claire’s selection from a field of almost 70 candidates, Chair Beth Dowling-Jones says, “Claire hits the ground running as one of our founding patrons and role models. We are excited that she has chosen to leave the City and apply her passion for diversity on a full-time basis with us. Her agility in moving between the public, private and voluntary sectors will be very valuable for us in winning the funding and partnerships we need to reach more children in more schools.”

“Suran will always have a place in our history and our hearts as the founder of Diversity Role Models. She has been a fantastic leader for our first five years, creating a successful concept, building a strong team and rolling out our workshops to reach almost 50,000 pupils. We wish her every happiness on her return home to New Zealand and will continue drawing on her talents as a consultant.”

Claire, who takes up her new role on 20 March after a handover period, explains her initial priorities: “This is more than a job role for me. It is a tangible chance to make a better future for the young people within our LGBT community, those with same sex or transgender parents, but also to build an inclusion-confident next generation. The early focus for me is to build on strong foundations, expanding our reach across the UK and attracting the funding we need to do so securely.

“There is real potential for DRM to broaden its influence. Inclusion remains a problem in schools and manifests itself partly in the form of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. It is also a problem in other institutions for young people, such as care homes. An inclusive culture where young people can be themselves is good for their wider mental health and wellbeing, and therefore society as a whole.”

“I would like to do much more to tackle the low-level discrimination we have seen in 2016, addressing the role models and social norms that young people find in their everyday lives. We need to get shoulder to shoulder with those organisations, people and systems that support young people and work collaboratively with them to build more inclusive cultures and ensure young people get the positive role models they need. With those role models they will know that they too can thrive.”

Commenting on the news, Melanie Richards, Vice Chair of KPMG, said: “Claire has made an indelible mark on our culture at KPMG and she should be very proud of all she has achieved in her time with us. Claire is a true champion of inclusive leadership and we as a firm are more inclusive and diverse as a direct result of her work.”

“We are of course sad to lose someone of Claire’s calibre, but that sadness is eased by the knowledge that she is moving to an organisation which actively engages the next generation in such an important issue. She will be missed, but we will be sure to build on her achievements.”

Diversity Role Models has reached over 49,193 students in 223 schools since the first workshop in 2011. Its workshops use 219 trained LGBT role models who tell their personal stories to students. This approach is shown to create empathy among students, carrying a positive message to LGBT students and bolstering their allies in school.

Claire invites current and potential partners and supporters to contact her at claire@diversityrolemodels.org and share their views and ideas, to help her and her colleagues shape the future of DRM.

ENDS

For more comment or information please contact FTI Consulting:

  • Phil Kennedy on 020 3727 1286, 07703 330884 or phil.kennedy@fticonsulting.com

Notes to editors

  • Claire Harvey’s employment history covers the private, voluntary and public sectors:
    • 2014-2017: head of inclusive leadership, KPMG
    • 2013-2014: assistant director for inclusion, Youth Sport Trust
    • 2010-2013: head of corporate responsibility, Financial Services Authority
    • 2008-2010: policy lead on young adult offenders, Ministry of Justice
    • 1995-2008: prison governor, HM Prison Service
  • The mission of Diversity Role Models (DRM) (registered charity number: 1142548)is to eliminate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools, stopping bullying before it happens by educating young people about difference, challenging stereotypes and addressing the misuse of language. DRM achieves this by providing educational workshops involving role models and teacher training, and by collaborating with individuals and organisations. For more information, see https://www.diversityrolemodels.org/

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