RAF Throttling Recruitment To Attract Diversity


The RAF has throttled recruiting efforts in an attempt to get more women and ethnic minorities into the fold. Last week Sky News reported the RAF had told recruiters to effectively stop hiring white males so it could meet “diversity targets.” The story, citing unnamed sources, also said a senior officer in the personnel department, a woman, had resigned in protest. On Friday, the Times confirmed the basics of the story with Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford, one of the highest ranking female officers in the RAF, and she was upbeat about the decision. Sky News reported the news.

“If I can include more women and more people from different backgrounds in that, I think I have a better service in the long run. We are unashamed about doing that because I think that’s a good thing,” she told the Times. The RAF is about 20 percent short of its goal of recruiting 25 percent women and 12 percent minorities, and Byford said the RAF board is considering ways to use “positive action” to recruit based on ethnicity and gender. Recruits are now assessed as they turn up at induction centers and are sent to the next phase in the same order. While the board considers the move, she said she asked recruiting offices to “stop filling up the training courses.” She also said the board might choose to maintain the current recruiting regimen.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. When building a highway to Hell, what do you use for pavement? “Good intentions.”
    These hiring quotas are a naked expression of bigotry , racism, and sexism.
    “Hell, next three exits.”

  2. Diversity, Equity, and Delusion.
    Why stop at 25%? Why not 50%?
    Did the RAF worry about diversity when it was fighting the Battle of Britain?

    • The very paternalistic Russians accepted a group of female pilots when they were desperately fighting Nationalsozialistiche Germany.

      Referred to by Nazi soldiers as Night Witches, they flew wooden biplanes at night, dropping bombs.

  3. An undesired state of affairs provides a rationalization to use evil methods?
    I see that England has not evolved since the days of Sir Thomas More.

  4. The title of the article is a bit misleading, isn’t it?

    “Attract(ing)” “diversity” would involve discerning why these (apparently very-desirable-but-underrepresented) demographic groups aren’t as naturally inclined to enlist as the (apparently now undesirable) group that is, and then adjusting the experience, benefits, or perception of serving accordingly in order to appeal more to the desired groups and (possibly) less to the undesirable group.

    The approach described here, on the other hand, seems to be about forcing an arbitrary demographic mix at any cost, including possibly missing recruitment goals or, alternatively, at the cost of reducing standards. That being the case, I would say “compel”, or “mandate” (assuming that word is still acceptable, give its unfortunate inclusion of “man” at the beginning) might be better choices than “attract”.

  5. Maybe they should have Princess Kate join the RAF. After all, her mother in law, Queen Elizabeth, drove trucks and worked as a mechanic during WWII. That might encourage plenty of young women to sign up. Both her husband and brother in law (Princes William and Harry) served in the military, so why not her?

  6. This RAF policy is a classic misguided social experiment, prioritizing wokeness for security.
    As George Orwell succinctly put it:“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

    Will these woke recruits meet that standard?

    • All of these “experiments” wind up with reduced standards to meet the goal – and then wonder “what happened”? As a high school teacher, I see that every day when certain “groups” are “promoted” by the principal and other staff members to appease the executives. And then they wonder why they all flunk out of college when the students don’t get “the promotions they deserve”. Diversity is wonderful.

  7. I agree with the commenters. This seems like a rather cumbersome and backwards method to appeal to a segment of the population. Perhaps a more effectual method would be to consult with a marketing/advertising professional. Basically, the RAF is attempting to expand it’s customer (recruits) base. A direct appeal to that demogaphic would seem to be a more straight forward approach.

  8. What happens when the US, UK and Nato go to war with China/Russia. If I’m a male pilot candidate passed over for a female, I’d say, let her go die.

    • ABSOLUTELY. Let women, gender fluid, and non-white people all sign up to wage a war! Make them believe they are doing it for “diversity” and recruit all who identify as such to march off to war! It reminds me of the “B Ark” in HHGG.

  9. I don’t care what sex you are or the colour of your skin the only thing that matters is that training standards you are assessed against reflect the actual requirements of the position, not dumbed down to accommodate a favoured group.

    The challenge is to ensure the requirements are valid, not just leftovers from the past because that was always the way it was done.

    Unfortunately the pressure to pass the “right” kind of recruit inevitably leads to reduced standards, something I witnessed first hand when I was serving. As soon as there is a quota, standards will slide.

    FWIW the very best officer and the very worst officer I ever had serving for me in a command position were women. If the bad one had been a man I am convinced that they would have been washed out early in the training process.

    However my general experience with women in the service was very positive. The ones that wanted to serve were on average smarter, harder working, and less trouble than the average man.

    Sadly many good ones left because of institutional sexism and a generalized unwillingness to offer reasonable accommodations for them to have children.

  10. Good on the RAF! Hoping the USAF has the cajones to follow this trend. I have only the US experience to compare, but given that what I see around me in the professional world of aviation is 95% while male, it is long past due to make an effort towards equity of opportunity.

    When I see a “let’s go Brandon” flag hanging in a local part 135 charter hangar, I wonder whether we in the US have the ability to acknowledge reality, broadly defined- or are we beholden to some cult of personality? Bend the knee to the liar in chief- any other opinions be dammed.

    Many other professions have successfully managed a transition to the 21st century in terms of understanding demographics; it always amuses / saddens this reader that it seems like aviation- as a profession- continues to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to being more inclusive.

    And y’all wonder why general aviation is dying… Hilarious, yet obvious per the comments here. And also sad. Time for most of you all to ride off into the sunset. Or make way for the new reality, that we need to make an effort towards inclusion of groups that have been taken for granted for decades.

    • HOW can you assume that the current distribution of people in any open profession is wrong?
      What’s next on your list, that the NFL must have “obviously” discriminated against Asians?
      Maybe it’s your simplistic predudice that needs to be let go?

    • How many organizations exist exclusively to encourage women to join aviation? How many for men? How many aviation scholarships are available exclusively for women? How many for men? How many airlines have a recruiting quota for women that they are unable to fill?
      The truth is that women are given a leg up at every step of the way in this industry. It’s also true that women generally don’t want to fly. Why do you want to take away women’s freedom to choose the careers that they want? Does the fact that construction trades are 95% men concern you as much as the 95% in aviation?

  11. It was another Englishman, Hobbs, who was probably the first feminist, when he said equality of the sexes existed because, since the invention of gun powder, a bullet from a gun fired by a woman, would kill you just as dead as a bullet fired by a man… Yes I saw feminist not pessimist prof…
    RAF flight training has a ridiculously high wash out rate, whether for men or women, black, white or in-between, so having a few candidates who apply at the wrong end of the recruitment process told to come back later, will not make much difference.
    And for the rest, the outside jobs are inevitably under military law on featureless airfields, or stale aired rooms in front of screens, or windowless hangers with lots of paper work. You need a particular mindset to do the work, and skin colour or gender does not affect whether people fit in and knuckle down to do it.

  12. I get weary of reading how mature, qualified, capable men keep getting referred to as “males”.

  13. DEI is further of the Limbaugh theorem: everything the government touches, turns to crap. DEI is neither new, nor is it exclusive to the U.K. 1975: the financial aid officer at NC State told me :”We no longer offer academic scholarships to white men.” So I worked my way through two engineering degrees, no college loans needed. 2006: My younger son enrolled at UNC-Charlotte and applied for a scholarship with the US Coast Guard in the hopes of flying for them. He was told his college didn’t qualify as it wasn’t diverse enough. He was so disgusted he quit college, apprenticed as an A&P, built jet engines for GE Aviation, who paid for his degree at ERAU and he now leads certification efforts there. Determined people will find a way to achieve their goals despite reverse discrimination, which is the real problem no one wants to discuss. Where is the evidence that diversity (whatever that is) leads to societal and economic gain? If it was true wouldn’t homogenous cultures like Japan, South Korea and Scandinavia be 3rd world countries?

  14. When young people express an interest in aviation, I do everything I can to make them feel welcome. I try to find out what their level of knowledge is so I don’t inadvertently chase them away with details with which they may not understand just yet. If the interest is there, they follow up on it. If they determine that, for whatever reason, they cannot follow up on it, they get encouragement to continue before making the decision to go in a different direction. We have a powerful and effective program in place right now to help in the process. It’s called Young Eagles. Before that it was Project Schoolflight. Build A Plane is coming along as well. These programs include everybody who makes the choice to participate. I’m totally confident that everybody in the aviation realm whom I hang with can do a much better job at kindling the fires of interest than any government initiative staffed with functionaries, and for the age group most likely form an interest and continue with it. Some of them, inevitably, choose military aviation. Aren’t these the people, who arrived via their own personal inspiration, the ones you really want protecting your nation? One day the social “engineers” practice of “You, go stand in that line! You, go over there! And you, in this line over here! Because it makes ME feel better!” will be seen for the nonsensical fallacy that it is.

  15. “Quit hiring white males” is the new slogan for the WOKE movement in ALL professions. We only hire people now based upon skin color and gender. Too bad that is eventually going to get some people killed when it comes to aviation.

  16. You want to increase racism? This is a sure path to doing so. White men are getting shafted because they are white and they know it. I am all for EQUAL OPPORTUNITY which is what MLK desired. This forced alleged “equity” is insanity to the nth degree.

  17. I think someone mentioned it before. Government could destroy an anvil with a q-tip. This is just another example of how government will destroy the military. Look at the breaking news out in Ca of federal, state and local government searching over 22,000 hrs for a missing person and a group of ……(trigger warning!!!!!)….private, volunteer, white males – found her in a couple hrs exactly where they were told not to search as the area was previously thoroughly searched.

  18. A better approach if one must is that of the Canadian Forces.

    They promote their work to demographic/psychographic audiences, notably tribal reservations.

    And organize local groups in remote areas, the Rangers I think they are called, notable in the Arctic.

  19. A major problem with quotas is it gives a view that the people who get in via quota are inferior in capability. Which of course was a key pitch for slavery in the US.

    In a different realm, renowned radio disc jockey Red Robinson was adamantly against gummint rules forcing Canadian content, as he believed great artists starting out in Canada would have more difficulty getting noticed in the US.

  20. The proper approach to life is individualism – choose best for the job.

    Some jobs may better suit women, for example, such as nursing and teaching very young children, for reasons including career flexibility and environment.

    Each individual can choose what is best for themself, including such factors and aptitude. Females have been pilots since the beginning of practical airplanes, such as the lady who Curtiss tried to prevent flying after charging her for preparatory lessons. (She outsmarted him, flew, then later he hired her to fly for him.)

    • Perhaps her name was Bessie Coleman.

      In my region, Gretchen Mathers (Mrs. Matheson)and Marge Fane (Mrs. Rutledge) developed a career in the 50s-60s. Marge told us at an aviation dinner that she almost always had work on the variable BC coast because she was qualified as stewardess, dispatcher, and pilot – all requiring skill and smarts in that environment.

      Problem however was pilot union in the US convincing gummint that persons who test flew hastily built aircraft then ferried them across the stormy North Atlantic were not temperamentally suited to fly pax in the controlled environment of the US. IOW gummint discriminated.

  21. An objective friend likes to say:
    – if you can do the job nothing else matters
    – if you can’t do the job nothing else matters
    (I’m confident his ‘do the job’ includes honesty.)