Lord Holmes
Lord Chris Holmes has taken his place on the Civil Service diversity panelAlexander Hassenstein/Getty

The government has appointed four diversity experts who will be tasked with increasing the number of employees from under-represented sectors in the civil service workforce. Lord Holmes is the former director of Paralympic integration at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Karen Blackett OBE is head of MediaCom, the UK's largest media agency, Helena Morrissey is the chief executive of Newton Investment Management and Stephen Frost is the former head of diversity at KPMG.

Lord Holmes led the team that planned and delivered the Paralympic Games. He is also Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer, winning nine gold medals, six at a single Games. He entered the House of Lords in 2013 as the Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE.

Blackett heads a company that represents advertisers including Coca-Cola, FMCG giant Procter & Gamble, Ikea, BSkyB and audio company Bose and bills more than £1bn (£660m) annually on behalf of its clients. In November 2014, she topped the Power List of Britain's 100 Most Influential Black People.

Morrissey is the founder of the influential 30% Club, which campaigns to get women on company boards. She has recently been named one of Fortune Magazine's World's 50 Greatest Leaders.

And from 2014 to 2015, Frost was head of diversity and inclusion at KPMG. He held the same role at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) from 2008 to 2012.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, head of the civil service, said: "The civil service takes pride in its differences and we have a duty to become even more representative of modern Britain. A diverse and inclusive workforce is proven to be more efficient and effective. I am passionate about encouraging individuals from all backgrounds to aim high and achieve their potential too, and in doing so to help the civil service become a truly socially inclusive employer."

The Diversity Advisers will advise ministers and the head of the civil service on progress that has been made on diversity and inclusion. They will also speak at key events and will sit on the removing barriers implementation board.

Matthew Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "In order to bring the country together as one nation, it is essential that the Civil Service is truly representative of modern Britain. Improving levels of diversity and inclusion is not simply important for the role of the Civil Service as an employer, but also in the development of policy and in the delivery of more effective and efficient services."

According to the government's most recent statistics, while women make up 53.3% of the civil service workforce, just 37.9% of senior civil service professionals are female. The statistics also reveal 10.1% of civil service workers are from an ethnic minority and just 4% of those hold senior roles. Disabled people are even more poorly represented, comprising only 8.8% of the civil service workforce, with 3.4% holding senior positions.