RAF admits 'mistakes were made' over recruitment diversity drive
RAF admits ‘mistakes were made’ following claims the service pressured recruitment boss to prioritise women and ethnic minorities over white men in ‘woke’ diversity drive
- The RAF’s diversity drive favoured women and ethnic minorities over white men
- But recruitment boss refused to follow order to prioritise particular candidates
- Diversity drive later scrapped amid closed-door clash between military top brass
- The MoD has now acknowledged that ‘mistakes were made’ for the first time
The Royal Air Force has admitted ‘mistakes were made’ following claims it pressured a recruitment boss to prioritise women and ethnic minorities over white men as part of a diversity drive.
Claims first emerged last month that the RAF’s head of recruitment had refused to follow an order to prioritise particular candidates because she believed it was ‘unlawful’.
The group captain told her boss that she was not willing to allocate slots on training courses based purely on a specific gender or ethnicity, according to a leaked message seen by Sky News at the time.
The diversity drive was later scrapped amid a closed-door clash between military top brass, which sparked an inquiry into how such a controversial policy was devised and very nearly implemented.
Asked about the allegations earlier this month, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, head of the RAF, told the broadcaster earlier this month: ‘There was absolutely no drop in operational standards, no drop in any standards.
‘There was no discrimination against any group, no standards were dropped, there was no discrimination against any group.’
But now a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged that, ‘despite the best of intentions, some mistakes were made’ in its approach.
Asked about the allegations earlier this month, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, head of the RAF, said there had been no drop in standards
In a statement today, they said: ‘The RAF is constantly reviewing its recruiting practices, including the introduction earlier this year of a new recruiting IT system, to improve the diversity of its workforce.
‘While overall standards did not drop, in hindsight we accept that despite the best of intentions, some mistakes were made.
‘The RAF is now confident that our approach is correct, however we are investigating some processes and decisions taken in the past, so it would be inappropriate to comment further while this is ongoing.’
The MoD added that recruitment generally is always a top priority for the RAF, not just female or minority ethnic recruitment, and insisted it remains determined to recruit in fair and non-discriminatory ways, while maintaining high standards.
It came after a bombshell email, leaked from within the RAF’s ranks, which appeared to show the service’s recruitment team actively discouraging white males from appearing in PR stunts.
The email, revealed by the Daily Mail, was appealing for base commanders to find the ‘face’ of the RAF to join the premier of Tom Cruise’s new Top Gun movie.
It read: ‘Gents, do any of you have a “pilot who is preferably not a white male” who would like to be the “RAF” face at a press event for the release of Top Gun 2? Shy guys get no cakes so shout quick as offer has also gone out to other units.’
The email offered a sobering insight into a culture that appears to have become normalised at the very highest echelons of the RAF.
Ultimately, it led to the resignation of Group Captain Elizabeth Nicholl, who clashed with her boss, former dentist Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford, the RAF’s head of recruitment – who is believed to have been behind the controversial campaign.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged that, ‘despite the best of intentions, some mistakes were made’ in its recruitment drive
The service has also been under scrutiny after allegations made against the Red Arrows.
Last month, The Times reported that members of the popular aerobatics team were being investigated over allegations of misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment.
The newspaper later reported that the aerobatic display team received ‘unacceptable behaviours and active bystander training’ after more than 40 personnel, including young female recruits, gave evidence against the team to an inquiry.
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