Dogfight over a freeze on hiring white men by the RAF reveals the absurd folly of diversity quotas, writes ESTHER KRAKUE
Julie Ann Gibson may not be a household name but in RAF circles she’s something of a celebrity.
That’s because 31 years ago, on July 14, 1991, she was awarded her wings and became the first female pilot in the service’s then 73-year history.
The following year, Flight Lieutenant Sally Cox was the first female pilot to be selected for fast jet training.
Two years later, in 1994, Flight Lieutenant Joanna Salter became the RAF’s first female combat jet pilot.
And, in 2017, the RAF became the first branch of the British military to open up every single one of its roles to both men and women.
Only last December the Commons Defence Committee reported that women represented 15 per cent of the RAF’s regular UK personnel and 23 per cent of its reserve personnel, making it a bigger employer of women than either the Army or the Navy.
An admirable record, you might think. But not if you’re a member of the top brass in the painfully woke world of the modern Armed Forces.
If defence sources are to be believed, an internal dogfight over hiring policy has led the head of the RAF’s recruiting team to quit in protest at demands to achieve ‘impossible’ diversity targets.
The female Group Captain involved, whose identity has not been disclosed, left her post in disgust at what reports claim is the imposition of a de facto recruitment freeze on white men in favour of women and candidates from an ethnic minority background.
Her departure comes in the wake of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) committing the RAF to doubling the recruitment of women to 40 per cent of the intake by 2030. What’s more, he set a target of half of this proportion coming from ethnic minorities.
As I’m a woman of Ghanaian heritage, you could be forgiven for assuming I’d welcome this approach, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I believe that ethnicity and gender shouldn’t come into it. To be clear, there is no positive in ‘positive discrimination’. It is just discrimination.
Just over 31 years ago, on July 14, 1991, Julie Ann Gibson was awarded her wings and became the first female pilot in the service’s then 73-year history
Where is the upside in elbowing people out of their dream career on the sole basis of their gender or the colour of their skin?
This at a time when Britain faces a greater threat to its security than at any period since the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
By supplying Ukraine with military hardware and finance to help it combat Russia’s invasion, we have made ourselves a target of Putin’s ire.
Meanwhile, 11 Chinese ballistic missiles recently whistled past the coast of northern Taiwan as part of Beijing’s toy-throwing protest at U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the island.
In the event of war in the South China Sea, the UK would likely send an aircraft carrier to support U.S. and Japanese fleets.
So, to limit the pool of highly skilled people upon whom our defence forces can call to meet an employment target — no doubt set by an outside diversity consultancy that has bent the ear of Whitehall mandarins — is preposterous.
And you don’t have to take my word for it.
The former Health Secretary Sajid Javid — the son of a bus driver who arrived in the UK from Pakistan — yesterday slammed the move as ‘complete nonsense’, adding: ‘I don’t think any organisation, whether it’s the RAF or any other public or private organisation, should be recruiting on the basis of one’s race.’
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party leadership campaign went further, saying: ‘The only thing that should matter in recruitment is the content of your character, not your sex or the colour of your skin. That the Ministry of Defence would allow Britain’s security potentially to be put at risk by a drive for so-called “diversity” is not only disgraceful, it is dangerous.’
Amen to that.
But all the signs are that the nation’s air force is as serious about its woke agenda as it is about protecting our shores.
Part of the RAF Diversity and Inclusion Directive reads: ‘The RAF is intent on increasing diversity across all minority groups, including race, religion and beliefs, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and re-assignment, marriage/civil partnership, socio-economic representation and neuro-diversity.
‘Greater diversity will enrich our understanding and broaden insight and is a critical component of the RAFs operational effectiveness.’
And it has a wide range of ‘Networks and Action Groups’ to promote these aims, including the RAF BAME Network (where BAME stands for Black And Minority Ethnic), the RAF LGBT+ Freedom Network, and the RAF Gender Network.
At the last count in 2021, 9.2 per cent of staff in the UK’s Armed Forces were from a non-white background — that’s 13,690 personnel across the RAF, Army and Navy.
The RAF has the lowest proportion of personnel from an ethnic minority background: only 3.3 per cent.
Given that the latest Office for National Statistics figures estimate the 2019 non-white population of England and Wales to be 15.2 per cent, it clearly thinks it has some catching up to do.
But the RAF has no business setting itself up as a force for social change.
Its sole objective should be to hire the best of the best — no matter their background or gender — and it’s juvenile to think otherwise.
When it comes to flying a fighter jet, there is no substitute for qualities such as split-second decision-making, lightning-fast reaction time, and impeccable hand-eye co-ordination.
It is a wonderfully meritocratic system, whereby recruits are put through a rigorous selection process.
And for the RAF to attempt to effect such a fundamental change in the composition of its workforce in just eight years, when the international security situation is as delicately poised as it is right now, is irresponsible to say the least.
If the RAF’s aim is to achieve its diversity targets above all else, above simply picking the best people, then it will be a weaker fighting force for it.
But sadly the RAF is not alone in falling victim to the scourge of political correctness. The obsession with diversity is a virus that is spreading throughout the public sector and our institutions, a trend that can only lead to falling standards.
Recruitment processes should have only one end in sight: finding the right person for the job. The more this aim is sidelined by the introduction of quotas, diversity agendas and so-called ‘unconscious bias’ training, the more likely we are to create a generation of disaffected applicants who are disillusioned by the whole process.
A career in the Armed Forces can be a life-changing privilege. I’ve seen young men clean themselves up after a juvenile life of drugs and crime to stand tall and proud as a British Army soldier.
As Martin Luther King proclaimed, people should live in a nation where they are judged not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.
And in the context of the RAF’s recruitment process that sentiment should cut both ways — for both black and white applicants. And for men and women.
RAF top brass are pandering to diversity agenda amid claims they have paused recruitment of white men, former military officer says
By Alice Wright for the Daily Mail
A top former military officer last night said he feared RAF commanders were ‘pandering to political correctness’ amid claims the Air Force has effectively paused its recruitment of white men.
Defence sources alleged there had been an ‘effective pause’ on the hiring of white men to meet ‘impossible’ diversity quotas for women and people from minority ethnic groups, Sky News reported.
The RAF’s group captain for recruitment and selection, whose identity has not been revealed, is understood to have resigned in recent days, but has not exited the force entirely.
‘This idea of diversity now dominates the thinking of senior leaders in all of the Armed Forces,’ said Colonel Richard Kemp (pictured), a former commander in Afghanistan
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander in Afghanistan, said: ‘This idea of diversity now dominates the thinking of senior leaders in all of the Armed Forces.
‘They have become seized by the need for political correctness over the need for combat effectiveness and that could be damaging to our national defences.
‘This is an example of pandering to political correctness, the diverse make-up of the Army is important but it’s definitely not the most important.’
Colonel Kemp, a senior associate fellow at military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, warned: ‘If it becomes widely known and believed that white men will get in less easily that will have an effect on who volunteers.’
Colonel Kemp, a senior associate fellow at military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, warned: ‘If it becomes widely known and believed that white men will get in less easily that will have an effect on who volunteers’
Conservative MP and member of the Commons defence committee Richard Drax
Conservative MP and member of the Commons defence committee Richard Drax – also a former Army officer – said that while he supported more women and ethnic minorities joining the Armed Forces, he was ‘nervous of any discrimination’.
He said: ‘Although I have been assured there have been no lowering of standards, I suspect that the RAF is manipulating the quota figure. There is a surplus of people trying to join the force therefore they are without doubt discriminating.
An RAF spokesman said: ‘There is no new policy with regards to meeting in-year recruitment requirements.’
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