Chief of general staff warns of outdated recruitment processes
The Army needs to overhaul its approach to recruitment and career structure to encourage more women and ethnic minority staff to join and stay in the services, General Sir Nicholas Carter said at an event this week.
The chief of the general staff said for too long the career structure in the Army had been too male-orientated and had pressurised women into leaving.
“It has in it a number of break points which sadly encourage women to leave rather than encouraging them to stay,” he said.
Speaking at ‘The Future of the British Army’ event in London, General Carter said the organisation needs to look beyond its “traditional” but “shrinking” recruitment pool and assess “the way in which we change the organisation to be one which reaches out to all types of British society.”
“If we don’t do that, we won’t have the necessary talent to be able to deliver what the nation requires in the future,” he said.
According to figures from the Ministry of Defence, the UK Army currently has 3,950 less full-time trained personnel than it requires.
At 1 January 2015, women accounted for just 8.9 per cent, while just 11.9 per cent of Army officers were female.
General Carter also stressed the need to recruit more people from ethnic minorities: “In about five years time probably 25 per cent of our recruits will need to come from the black asian minority ethnic community,” he said.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) personnel currently account for 10.2 per cent of Army personnel according to the latest MoD data.
General Carter also warned that the organisation would need to tackle bullying to deal with encourage greater diversity across all levels of the Army.
In April last year, the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2014 revealed that one in 10 services personnel believed they had been the subject of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the last 12 months.
“It is not good enough that we still have significant numbers of complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination. There are areas that we genuinely have to attend to,” General Carter said.
Commenting on the speech, Kathryn Nawrockyi, director of Opportunity Now at Business in the Community (BITC), said: “Role models are critical to overcoming barriers to attracting new talent. Currently very few women and ethnic minorities are in the top ranks of our Armed Forces; we need more role models from diverse backgrounds sending the positive message to female and ethnic minority talent that it is possible to have a full career in the Army.”
And Denise Keating, chief executive at the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei) commented: “Whilst the Army holds exemptions from the Equality Act 2010 on sex, disability and age, it’s willingness to not only look at opening up combat roles to women, despite not legally being obliged to, and also openly acknowledge bullying and harassment being one of the Army’s main barriers to a diverse workforce, implies that it is not content to do the minimum required by law, but to go much further, putting diversity at the centre of its plans.”
The Army is currently undergoing a transformation project called Army 2020, which aims to reshape the organisation’s structure. This includes a new development framework, which will reassess career structures, career management and training.