Diversity in defence can protect businesses across the supply chain against “groupthink,” according to the co-chair of the Women in Defence Charter, which was unveiled at DSEI.

The new strategy aims to achieve a minimum of 30 per cent female representation at all levels across the defence sector by 2030. The Charter already has more than 50 signatories who have committed to being the best at driving inclusion and diversity within their organisations and providing fair opportunity for women to succeed in the UK defence sector.

The organisation is a collaboration between the MOD and industry and will work to support the sector in achieving a minimum of 30 per cent female representation by 2030, acting as a resource of information, guidance, and best practice and drawing upon the expertise of our signatories.

Charter will be driven by ambition

Angela Owen, co-chair of the Women in Defence Charter said: “Women in Defence UK has just announced our ambition which is that 30 per cent of all people who work in defence should be female by 2030. Now that’s at all levels of defence, not just at the junior levels, not just at the middle management but at the board and the executive level as well. So everywhere you look across the organisation, 30 per cent of women minimum. Obviously you need more at the junior levels because of the pyramid effect.”

Owen said it would be a tough challenge: “For some companies they’re nearly there, others will find it difficult and it is an ambition. Companies need to sign up to the ambition, organisations need to sign up to the ambition. For some it will be harder than others because they have further to go.”

She noted that some of the industry primes were already reporting on gender balance but many SMEs would need further guidance to help them achieve the ambition.

“What we hope to be able to do is to share best practice and we recognise that it’s more difficult for tiny companies to actually achieve this, but if you sign up for the Charter and look at the commitment then you will be joining a fantastic club and you can learn from each other.”

“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about actually making a difference. There is a real advantage in having diversity in the workforce. The real advantage is diversity of thought – if everyone looks like you, if everyone thinks like you, the risk of groupthink is enormous. You can get so many new ideas from diversity not just of gender but of race ethnicity the more diverse your workforce is within an inclusive community and inclusive culture so you can hear people’s voices you’re going to get a better result.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter