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Report: UK’s RAF pauses hiring white men – they deny despite ‘diverse workforce’ goal

In this file photo, Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, prepares the cockpit for take-off during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
August 16, 2022

A new report is alleging the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) is pausing job offers for white male recruits so it can focus on hiring more women and minorities. U.K. military officials denied the specific policy on Tuesday even as they vowed to “ensure we have a diverse workforce.”

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Sky News first reported on Tuesday that the head of RAF recruitment, a female officer, submitted her resignation in protest of an “effective pause” on job offerings for white male recruits. The unnamed recruiting official reportedly said such restrictions, however temporary, could undermine the RAF’s fighting capabilities.

The female recruiting officer further accused the RAF of attempting to hit “impossible” diversity targets.

A U.K. Ministry of Defense official told American Military News that the RAF is pursuing a force that “reflects” the U.K.’s society but said there is “no such blanket policy” by the RAF to stop hiring white men.

“Operational effectiveness is of paramount importance and no one is lowering the standards to join the Royal Air Force” the defense ministry official said, “The RAF recruits for many professions and, like the rest of the Armed Forces, is determined to be a force that reflects the society it serves to protect.”

The defense official did not respond to a question about whether any RAF official had offered their resignation while citing the alleged pause on hiring white men.

Sky News reported British defense officials accused Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the RAF’s top officer, of showing a willingness to compromise the U.K.’s national security to further diversity and inclusion.

An RAF official told American Military News, “There is no pause in Royal Air Force recruitment and no new policy with regards to meeting in-year recruitment requirements.”

“Royal Air Force commanders will not shy away from the challenges we face building a Service that attracts and recruits talent from every part of the UK workforce,” the RAF official added. “As with the Royal Navy and British Army, we are doing everything we can to encourage recruiting from under-represented groups and ensure we have a diverse workforce.”

The RAF said it does not comment on individual circumstances.

The RAF and Defense Ministry acknowledged that the U.K.’s military may take “positive action” at times “where required to ensure diversification of the workforce.”

A defense ministry official did say that a white male recruit with top scores would be selected, and the military only takes “positive action” where all scores are even between potential recruits.

U.K. governments and defense officials have been calling on their military services to increase the diversity among their ranks for years.

Last December, in his first speech after becoming the 24th Chief of the U.K.’s Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin called echoed those calls for increased diversity.

Radakin said his call for diversity is not “about wokefulness. It is about woefulness. The woefulness of too few women. The woefulness of not reflecting the ethnic, religious and cognitive diversity of our nation.”

The reported hiring pause comes as Russian officials and state media channels have repeatedly threatened the United Kingdom with nuclear attacks.