Ministry of Defence: Racial Discrimination

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department does not contain institutional racism.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

While Defence has long recognised that any form of racism or discrimination is absolutely unacceptable and has continued to challenge itself to become more diverse and inclusive, we recognise the pace of change needs to quicken. Efforts are being redoubled to fulfil the key objective in Defence's 2018-2030 Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Strategy to eliminate discrimination and improve diversity throughout Defence.

Progress against Defence's D&I Strategy in the last 12 months has included a new governance structure with ambitious levels of ambition across Defence, as well as an increased scrutiny and monitoring function. Diversity and Inclusion is being integrated in top level boards and mainstreamed through the transformation programme. At the very highest levels of Defence, from the Executive Committee downwards, we have been, and will continue to reflect on and discuss our own behaviours and attitudes.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is continuing its efforts to implement all the recommendations made in the Wigston review to tackle unacceptable behaviour. On 1 September, the MOD launched a new, independent, whole-force helpline on bullying, harassment and discrimination to offer support and advice to personnel. All MOD personnel (civilian and military) complete mandatory diversity and inclusion training courses, including on unconscious bias, and a new Active Bystander course has been rolled-out to equip personnel with the skills to effectively challenge unacceptable behaviour.

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