First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key, on board HMS Victory in November 2021 (Picture: MOD).

Navy

First Sea Lord: A lot of work to do to tackle gender equality in Navy

Admiral Sir Ben Key acknowledged Royal Navy's shortcomings but pointed at improvements made in recent decades.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key, on board HMS Victory in November 2021 (Picture: MOD).

The Navy has "still got a lot of work to do" when it comes to achieving gender parity in the service, according to the First Sea Lord.

"The day we think we've cracked it is the day that we fall massively behind," Admiral Sir Ben Key told the Telegraph.

"Have we solved that everybody who comes to work in the Royal Navy brings out their best and is recognised for that, rewarded and applauded for that and feels comfortable in an environment?

"Have we got that right for everybody at the moment? No," he added.

Sir Ben acknowledged the Royal Navy's shortcomings, but remarked that there have been improvements since he first joined in 1984.

"[The Royal Navy] is immeasurably better for having women serving at sea than the one that I joined in 1984."

He said that leadership behaviours in place in the 1980s "would no longer be judged appropriate" and, despite what he defined "brilliant leadership" in some areas, "there was also some not so good".

"We are now seeing the benefit, not just of women but also of ethnic diversity coming into the service to help us tackle the problems of today and to seek best advantage," Sir Ben said in the Telegraph's interview.

Sir Ben added that later in the year "all of the four of our major training establishments will be commanded by women at the same time".

The First Sea Lord also mentioned the recent appointment of Captain Sarah Oakley as Commanding Officer of the Britannia Royal Naval College as an example of how women have been progressing in the Royal Navy.