White men trying to join RAF branded 'useless' by recruitment officers

White men trying to join the were branded ‘useless’ by recruitment officers, leaked emails have revealed.

The emails, which are set to renew a row over diversity quotas, were sent by a squadron leader in the air force’s recruitment division in January 2021. 

They expose the pressure that officers appeared to be under to filter out white male recruits and fast-track women and ethnic minorities.

The RAF is also reportedly paying £5,000 each to 31 white men who it found had been unfairly disadvantaged by its recruitment policy.

And some selection boards were cancelled if they did not include women or ethnic minorities, according to the leaked messages.  

White men trying to join the RAF were branded ‘useless’ by recruitment officers, leaked emails have revealed.Above: Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston addresses RAF personnel

One email seen by , which was sent on January 19, 2021 under the subject line ‘BOARDING PROFILE’, reads: ‘I would be grateful if you could provide me with a breakdown of the candidates awaiting boarding, by Br [branch – the type of profession, such as pilot, engineer or chef] and BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic]/Female.’

He continued: ‘I noted that the boards have recently been predominantly white male heavy, if we don’t have enough BAME and female to board then we need to make the decision to pause boarding and seek more BAME and female from the RF [recruitment force].

‘I don’t really need to see loads of useless white male pilots, lets [sic] get a [sic] focussed as possible, I am more than happy to reduce boarding if needed to have a balanced BAME/female/Male board.’

The Ministry of Defence has stressed that the ‘useless’ remark did not refer to individuals’ talent, but rather the fact their recruitment would not help boost diversity targets. 

An email sent the following day by the same squadron leader to a more senior member of the recruitment team suggested they were struggling to hit diversity targets.

It also described the efforts being made to get more women and ethnic minority candidates onto selection boards.

Selection boards are used to choose recruits for different branches at RAF Halton and RAF Cranwell, the air force’s training colleges. 

The emails expose the pressure that officers appeared to be under to filter out white male recruits and fast-track women and ethnic minorities

The second email read: ‘You will note however that the pot for BAME and female is drained.

‘From 336 Cs [candidates] we have c10% female, 5% BAME which we will burn through quickly using the boarding profile proposed.

‘As you know we select approx.45-50% of BAME and female that we board therefore we expect to select c15 female and 7 BAME from the current cohort.

‘The demand signal needs to go back to RF [the recruitment force] to focus now on sending all the BAME and female they have.

‘We have cancelled 2 x boards next week due to them having no female/BAME or priority Br [priority branch] on them’.

The emails date back to when recruitment and selection was led by Group Captain William Dole.

He succeeded Group Captain Elizabeth Nicholl, who resigned in protest at what she deemed to be an ‘unlawful order’ to effectively pause the selection of white men in an effort to hit ‘impossible’ diversity targets, according to defence sources.

The order was never implemented because of her resignation.  

An RAF spokesman said: ‘The Royal Air Force will not shy away from the challenges we face building a Service that attracts and recruits talent from every part of the UK workforce. 

‘We will continue doing everything we can to increase our recruiting intake from under-represented groups within the provisions of the law.

‘All individuals joining the Royal Air Force were and are selected on merit and any individuals that were advanced to their training courses had already passed the selection process. 

‘There was no compromise of entry standards and no impact on the frontline or operational effectiveness.’

It comes after the outgoing chief of the RAF admitted the air force made mistakes in its diversity recruitment drive. 

It comes after the outgoing chief of the RAF admitted the air force made mistakes in its diversity recruitment drive.Above: Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston

Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston, who is retiring next month, said: ‘We were doing all we could to tackle this intractable problem, which is the lack of diversity in our service.’

But the Chief of the Air Staff revealed that the failing recruitment drive resulted in the resignation of a senior official, which he described as a ‘regrettable outcome’.

His goals had been for 40 per cent of the force’s personnel to be women and 20 per cent to be from ethnic minorities by the end of the decade.

Sir Mike, 55, said one of the mistakes made was that those ‘aspirational goals filtered down into people’s personal objectives in-year, which they found almost impossible to meet’.

‘That put intolerable pressure on them and I’ve apologised to the recruiting and selection organisation,’ he added.

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