RAF admits 'mistakes made' after claim women and ethnic minority recruits prioritised

The RAF has been criticised after admitting mistakes were made with its recruitment practices. The service had faced allegations it prioritised female and ethnic minority candidates over white men to hit “impossible” diversity targets.

A leaked email exposed concerns over an IT recruitment system designed to rank potential recruits on merit.

It revealed how the system would be “problematic” for the RAF and have “huge implications” over the service’s ability to hit diversity targets.

First reported by Sky News, an internal message dated April 9, 2021, claimed Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston’s main priority around recruitment was ethnic minorities and women.

Martin Daubney, Deputy Leader of the Reclaim Party, wrote on Twitter: “The Diversity Industry hits a new low. Cancelling white men to over-promote women & BAMEs is no game when lives are at risk in RAF combat scenarios. Utterly unacceptable!”

He said: “More officers in the service should honestly think about challenging this.”

It comes after claims emerged in August that the RAF’s then Head of Recruitment refused to follow an order to prioritise women and ethnic minority candidates over white men because she believed it was “unlawful”.

The Group Captain told her boss she was not willing to allocate slots on training courses based purely on a specific gender or ethnicity, according to a leaked message seen by Sky News.

Asked about the allegations at the time, Sir Mike Wigston told Sky: “There was absolutely no drop in operational standards, no drop in any standards.

“There was no discrimination against any group, no standards were dropped, there was no discrimination against any group… No approach to recruiting, or any measures that we’ve taken to recruit from the widest pool of talent in the UK workforce, has in any way detracted from our operational standards and our operational service.”

He added: “We’ve been very clear where we stand. We will continue to examine our practices. We will do everything we can to recruit from the widest pool of talent.

“We will be very clear about how we approach any attempts to widen that pool of talent, widen our diversity, and we will continue to protect the nation. We will secure our skies and patrol our seas.”

In the same month, the unnamed Group Captain resigned amid claims of pressure to meet diversity targets.

The RAF wants to get 20 percent of new recruits from ethnic minorities and 40 percent among women.

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