ISC criticises 'male mentality' of security services

Committee urges greater diversity in intelligence agencies

Richard Keith Wolff / Demotix/Demotix/Press Association Images

By Josh May

05 Mar 2015

A “very traditional male mentality” within elements of the intelligence agencies is deterring women from reaching the top of the services, a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee has said. 

Hazel Blears, Labour MP and member of the ISC, said there was a “strong business imperative for greater diversity” in the agencies.

Today’s report found that women comprised 37% of the workforce of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Ms Blears said there was a “strong commitment to diversity from the top of the organisation”, but that was not reflected at lower levels of the agencies.

“It is clear to us there are those at middle management level – referred to by some people as 'the permafrost' – who have a very traditional male mentality and outlook,” she said.  

“This can reinforce a management culture which rewards those who speak the loudest or are aggressive in pursuing their career and does not fully recognise the value of a more consultative, collaborative approach.”

In total, the report makes six recommendations for improving diversity: targeting specific groups of women; more career management for women in the agencies; better support networks for women in the organisation; greater diversity in women’s career paths; and sharing ideas with other organisations. 

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