Female personnel RAF

Senior Military Officer 'Impressed' With Work On Gender Balance

A group of volunteers has spent a year working towards having women in 30% of military roles at 2* level and above by 2030.

Female personnel RAF

A senior military officer says he is "really impressed" by the achievements of a working group trying to improve gender balance in the forces.

The group has been working for the past year towards a target of having women in 30% of roles at 2* level and above by 2030.

The volunteers came together in November 2019 and their work is progressing alongside that of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team and with support from the D&I networks across Defence.

Rear Admiral James Macleod, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff Personnel Capability and programme owner, congratulated the volunteers on their work so far.

He said: "As the programme celebrates its one-year anniversary, I'm really impressed by what the team has achieved in just one year.

"This is even more notable given that the programme is purely driven by volunteers, who are championing and driving the programme forward at great pace."

According to a document published on Monday, the team was able to build a comprehensive database of insights and evidence on gender diversity in the military.

Among their other achievements, the volunteers also launched an inclusion workshop trial and developed a lateral entry policy to support re-joiners and new recruits.

Job descriptions are also being reviewed, aiming to remove "gates" and "criteria" that are unnecessary and disproportionality affect women.

In 2018, all roles within the British military were opened up to women.

Female soldier standing in front of junior soldiers on parade square during passing out at Army Foundation College Harrogate 080820 CREDIT BFBS

Key findings

10.9% of regular service personnel across all grades and services are female.

A total of 4.9% of women across all services serve at OF7 or 2* level (Major General; Rear-Admiral; Air Vice Marshal ranks) and 3.4% of women across all services serve at OF8 or 3* level (Lieutenant General; Vice Admiral; Air Marshal ranks).

However, there are currently no women working at OF9 or 4* level (General; Admiral; Air Chief Marshal ranks).

The team looked at why women are not progressing at the same rate as their male counterparts, with their research identifying five key areas as crucial in reaching the 30% goal by 2030.

Those areas are the review of the talent process, the development of talent, the recognition of the modern family, the creation of inclusive working environments and the attraction of talent.

Next steps

An independent review will examine how the military's appraisal and promotion processes affected the career development of female leaders.

Mentoring initiatives and online resources will be among the interventions aimed at helping female leaders to progress.

Modern families will be taken into account when policies are developed.

A range of initiatives aiming to create inclusive working environments where unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated.

Using lateral entry, the military aims to encourage external applicants to join or return to the services at a level that recognises their knowledge and skills.

While some of these steps are not specifically aimed at women, they are expected to have a positive impact on gender balance.

Other steps include:

  • A Women's Talent Management Programme;
  • A review route to promotion to ensure systemic bias is not taking place;
  • A review of appraisals;
  • The Families' Test to ensure consideration is given to the impact a policy will have on families'
  • And the investigation of other possible policy changes revolving around flexible working and job share.

Cover image: MOD.