Anonymous RAF Pilot walks out to a Typhoon FGR4 to prepare for take off with 4 F16s from Konya Air Base
The RAF Chief also said the service continues to recruit based on "merit" and will always "pursue a more diverse RAF in ways that are fair" (Picture: MOD).
RAF

RAF chief stands by 'ambition for greater diversity'

Anonymous RAF Pilot walks out to a Typhoon FGR4 to prepare for take off with 4 F16s from Konya Air Base
The RAF Chief also said the service continues to recruit based on "merit" and will always "pursue a more diverse RAF in ways that are fair" (Picture: MOD).

The head of the RAF and the Defence Secretary have met with the Air Force Main Board to understand the progress made in recruitment by the service.

This year has seen the RAF's recruitment cause controversy after the head of recruitment for the service said she was "unashamed" of a policy that could see ethnic minorities and women prioritised for roles over white men.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston also promised to address concerns raised about the service's culture "as a priority" after a number of reports including accusations of misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment within the Red Arrows.

After he and Ben Wallace met with the Air Force Main Board, Air Chief Marshal Wigston said he previously set "ambitious and stretching targets" to make sure a wide range of talent is attracted to the RAF.

"I stand by the ambition for greater diversity with the support of my leadership team and ministers," he said.

"We are determined to recruit for a Royal Air Force in ways that are fair, don't discriminate against anyone, and maintain our high standards."

Watch: Parade and flypast marks RAF Scampton closure.

He went on: "Earlier this year we explored a recruiting practice to improve the diversity of our workforce – this policy was challenged and never implemented, but I regret that challenge led to our Head of Recruiting and Selection stepping down from her role.

"A non-statutory inquiry has been launched to understand the circumstances that led to her decision. This is in line with the wishes of the individual involved." 

The RAF Chief also said the service continues to recruit based on "merit" and will always "pursue a more diverse RAF in ways that are fair".

"There is rightly a healthy debate inside the Royal Air Force about the best way to tackle this," he said.

Watch: National air and space camp brings together next generation of RAF personnel.

"The Royal Air Force has a phenomenal record of operational delivery, a performance that rests on the brilliance of our people across the whole service.

"A more diverse Royal Air Force will be stronger, more effective, innovative and resilient, and better able to face the threats and challenges of the future."

Following the meeting, the Defence Secretary said there "has been no dropping of standards required of potential recruits and there are no plans to do so in the future".

"The Chief of the Air Staff and I support the ambition of greater diversity in the RAF, but neither of us will risk national security to get there," he said.

"I have every confidence in the leadership of the RAF, who continue to deliver operations around the world to the highest standard, keeping the UK and our allies and partners safe."