Ministry of Defence publishes diversity and inclusion strategy

Diversity and inclusion must be "an integral part of every part of the defence operating model", according to the strategy

One of the strategy's goals is to increase BAME and female representation in the armed forces. Photo: PA

The Ministry of Defence has published a strategy to boost diversity and inclusion across its civilian and armed forces divisions over the next 12 years.

The strategy, A Force for Inclusion, aims to address shortcomings including low levels of representation of women, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and people with disabilities in the MoD compared to the rest of the civil service.

It includes few numerical targets, but said measurable targets will be set for each defence organisation – including the MoD, its arm’s-length bodies and the armed forces – to achieve by 2020, 2025 and 2030. Arm’s-length bodies will produce high-level delivery plans setting out how they will meet the strategy’s goals.


Progress will be measured across three key objectives: to be an inclusive employer; to represent UK society at all levels; and “to be recognised as a force for inclusion in wider society”.

The strategy aims to improve overall representation through “significant improvements” in the percentage of BAME, female and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) personnel in both the military and civil service arms of defence, and in the percentage of disabled staff recruited into the civil service. It also aims to boost the number of people from each of these groups promoted into the Senior Civil Service.

By 2030, defence as a whole aims to achieve “significant” improvements in military and civil service performance against the Cabinet Office’s inclusion metrics. These metrics will be published by 2020.

Meeting this commitment will mean reducing bullying, harassment and discrimination, particularly against women, BAME and LGB and disabled employees. This will be measured using the annual civil service People Survey and armed forces attitude surveys.

It also means significantly reducing the number of discrimination-related complaints, employment tribunals and grievances that are upheld against the MoD, and reducing the gaps in annual appraisal performances between protected and non-protected groups.

The strategy also includes measures to improve the MoD’s collection and use of data to measure diversity. By 2030, both the civil and armed services should record ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability data for at least 98% of their employees, it said.

The armed forces will also aim to improve their understanding of people they employ who have disabilities, and how to make the best use of their skills.

Leaders across the defence organisations will be expected to drive change, but diversity and inclusion should not just be a top-down exercise. “Improvements in defence’s D&I performance will not be achieved solely by the actions of staff in niche areas of the department,” the document notes.

“If we are to effect real change, D&I must be considered by staff at all levels as an integral part of every part of the defence operating model and its associated decision-making processes, programmes, policies and strategies.”

By 2020, at least 95% of staff will be expected to be up to date with mandatory diversity and inclusion training. Defence decisions will be subject to an equality analysis to determine how they could positively or negatively affect people in and outside the organisation, and Defence bodies will be audited to ensure they are complying with the strategy as well as their legal obligations.

Existing strategies, policies, processes and programmes will be reviewed to determine whether they could be adapted to better support the department’s diversity and inclusion goals. “For example, work will be undertaken to determine whether there are elements of our policies, programmes or processes that pose barriers to diversity of thought or which inadvertently exclude or disadvantage particular groups of people,” the document said.

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